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Guatemala’s new authorities makes extortion its high safety precedence

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GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala President Bernardo Arévalo’s new administration says it can make addressing widespread extortion its high safety precedence.

Inside Minister Francisco Jiménez, a safety professional who has beforehand held the place, defined that Guatemala’s extortion downside is completely different from that in some neighboring nations.

Solely about 20% of the extortion {cases} are attributable to gangs, whereas the remainder are gang “imitators,” Jiménez stated, which means that opportunistic criminals commerce on the violent repute of the gangs to extract cash from individuals.

Authorities additionally hint a lot of the extortion again to Guatemala’s prisons, the place inmates use contraband telephones to threaten and terrorize small enterprise homeowners.

“As President Arévalo stated, the problem of extortion is what we’re going to make a specific precedence this yr,” Jiménez instructed The Related Press in a phone interview this week.

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To deal with it, Jiménez stated the federal government would launch a public consciousness marketing campaign in opposition to extortion, reinforce the police and their intelligence capability, particularly inside the jail system.

“We consider nearly all of the extortion comes from the jail system, in addition to different necessary crimes like kidnappings and employed killings which might be organized contained in the prisons,” Jiménez stated.

A younger store proprietor on the outskirts of Guatemala’s capital, who requested anonymity to debate the extortion she has suffered, stated that she opens the doorways of her small food store every day fearing {that a} gang member will drop off a mobile phone on which she would then obtain a name demanding cost.

The lady stated she had been extorted earlier than and recalled when gang members gathered her and different enterprise homeowners on her block to threaten them. “They requested for cash in trade for not reducing us to items,” she stated.

Arévalo, who was sworn in in the course of the early hours of Monday, additionally has targeted his consideration on the jail system, saying Wednesday that he believed that its deficiencies and corruption have been a big a part of Guatemala’s safety challenges.

The issue just isn’t remoted to Guatemala. Ecuador’s authorities has blamed a lot of its latest spiraling violence on the organized felony teams that management the prisons. Mexico too has repeatedly discovered organized extortion teams working inside its prisons.

Jiménez stated one other safety precedence can be going after drug trafficking operations, noting that their felony enterprises usually develop into different areas.

Arévalo campaigned on going after Guatemala’s deep-rooted corruption, a few of which is fueled by drug proceeds. However his means to deal with that and lots of different points may very well be hindered by the a number of investigations of him and his celebration by the Lawyer Common’s Workplace.

The U.S. authorities, the Group of American States and others have stated the investigations are politically motivated. Lawyer Common Consuelo Porras has been sanctioned by the U.S. authorities and accused of great corruption.

Arévalo stated Friday that he had requested a gathering with Porras for subsequent week the place he deliberate to ask for her resignation. The regulation doesn’t permit the president to take away her from workplace.

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