Last week in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, heightened levels of gang violence continued with attacks against civilians in Haiti and Jamaica and clashes between rival groups in Mexico. In Haiti, alleged members of the Base 5 Secondes gang and allied Canaan gang continued their offensive operations in Cabaret district, reportedly killing around 20 civilians, while demonstrations against deportations of Haitians continued along the border with the Dominican Republic. In Mexico, clashes and roadblocks were recorded at the border between Jalisco and Zacatecas states amid the ongoing conflict between the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel. In Honduras, supporters of San Marcos Mayor Pedro Armando Aguilar demonstrated and clashed with police following the mayor’s arrest under murder and drug trafficking charges.
In Haiti, Base 5 Secondes and Canaan gang members carried out a deadly attack in Cabaret district, Ouest department on the night of 29 November. The gang members reportedly killed around 20 residents and set fire to dozens of houses. According to local authorities, the attack comes in retaliation for the police’s anti-gang operations in the area and the residents’ resistance to gang control (Al Jazeera, 1 December 2022). The Base 5 Secondes gang has recently intensified its activity in Cabaret district, clashing with rival gangs and taking control of several towns. This district is part of the Archaie municipality, a strategic location for the control of the Lafiteau port, its surrounding industrial area, and for its direct connection between Port-au-Prince and the Artibonite department through the National Route 1 (RFI, 1 December 2022). ACLED records an increase in violent events in Archaie municipality, with double the number of such events already recorded thus far in 2022 compared to the whole of 2021.
Elsewhere, in the neighboring Artibonite department, unidentified gang members abducted and raped an unknown number of women passengers of a bus near Liancourt village. Following the incident, police arrested 15 gang members during security operations in the area. The whereabouts of the victims remain unknown (Loop News, 1 December 2022). This action follows similar attacks against civilians in this department in October that also included sexual abuses by gang members. Tensions also remained high for a third consecutive week at the border with the Dominican Republic as demonstrators decried the mistreatment and deportations of Haitian migrants by Dominican authorities. Haitian police intervened in Ouanaminthe, Nord-Est department, shooting and injuring one of the participants. In Belladere, Centre department, Dominican military forces instead fired live ammunition to disperse the crowd as rioters threw stones at the officers.
In Mexico, the CJNG clashed with state forces amid security operations in the northeast part of Jalisco state. In Encarnación de Díaz municipality, clashes involving the CJNG, the national guard, and state police officers resulted in at least two armed men killed. Following the clash, cartel members set fire to cargo trucks and civilian vehicles to block roads in three municipalities along the border with Zacatecas state. These incidents come after Jalisco authorities reinforced security patrols in response to increasing violence and the recent killing of a National Guard general in Zacatecas (El Financiero, 3 December 2022). Meanwhile, also at the border between these two states, the CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel continued to dispute the control of extortion and drug trafficking routes last week. Members of these criminal groups clashed in Totatiche municipality and set vehicles ablaze to block roads in Cañadas de Obregón, Teocaltiche, and Tepatlitán de Morelos municipalities in Jalisco (La Silla Rota, 3 December 2022). Similarly, the CJNG clashed with Operativa MZ – the armed branch of the Sinaloa Cartel – in Jerez municipality, Zacatecas.
There was also an increase in violence in Jamaica, where gunmen and suspected gang members carried out attacks against civilians. Most incidents were reported in Kingston parish, including the reported killing of two men in a gang attack linked to the long-standing feud between the Upsetta Mafia gang and the Super Star gang for the control of Hannah Town community (Jamaica Observer, 29 May 2014). Additionally, at least two people were reportedly killed in separate events in Saint Catherine parish last week. While police reported one of the two killings was related to gang violence, the motivation for the other is unknown. These trends contributed to the 100% increase in violent events in Saint Catherine over the past week relative to the weekly average for the preceding month, as flagged by ACLED’s Subnational Surge Tracker. These killings took place a few days before the end of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in seven of the country’s 14 parishes, including both Kingston and Saint Catherine. The SOE was declared by the government on 15 November, following a spike in homicides on the island (Caribbean National Weekly, 15 November 2022). The SOE extended the powers of security forces to fight gangs, allowing them to impose curfews and conduct searches and arrests without a warrant. The SOE expired on 29 November after members of the opposition rejected the government’s proposal for a 46-day extension of the SOE, criticizing its effectiveness and constitutional legitimacy (Jamaica Gleaner, 26 November 2022).
In Honduras, following the arrest of San Marcos Mayor Pedro Armando Aguilar on 28 November, armed rioters supporting the mayor burned tires and clashed with security forces in San Marcos during a demonstration to claim his innocence and demand his release. The mayor, a member of the Honduran Patriotic Alliance Party, was accused of killing four people in 2019 and leading a contract-killing criminal group called ‘Pelón’ gang (La Prensa, 28 November 2022). Aguilar is also being investigated for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking (Infobae, 29 November 2022). On the first day of the court hearing, supporters demonstrating in Comayaguela called for the mayor’s release. Separately, attacks by armed suspects and gang members continued at high levels last week, leaving at least five civilians reportedly dead. Such attacks contributed to the 59% increase in average weekly violent events in Honduras in the past month relative to the weekly average for the preceding year. ACLED’s Conflict Change Map also warned of increased violence in the country during the preceding four weeks.
Note: This dashboard automatically updates to cover the latest four weeks of data released by ACLED. Use the date filters to view data for the one-week period covered by this Regional Overview.