On 12 December 2018, Guatemalan security forces launched over 100 raids against extortion activities targeting merchants and cargo transport concentrated in the departments of El Progreso, Guatemala, Quetzaltenango, and Totonicapan.
The country has undergone a rise in reported national extortion rates monthly over 2018 from 46.1 per 100,000 in January to 50.7 in November, the highest rate in over seven years but likely reflecting only a small percentage as most incidents are not reported due to distrust of security personnel according to Guatemala’s National Economic Research Centre (Centro de Investigaciones Económicas Nacionales: CIEN). Security forces targeted the ‘Solo para Locos’ and ‘Crazy Rich’ cells of the M-18 gang but also went after a series of so-called imitators who pose as gang members to extort over GTQ3million (USD439,000) in 2018; three police officers from the National Division against the Criminal Development of Gangs (DIPANDA) also were arrested 10 December on allegations of extorting taxi drivers in Guatemala City with demands of up to GTQ900 (USD118) per week.
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