Behind a Rise in Latin America’s Violent Crime, A Deadly Flow of Illegal Guns

By Carina Solmirano

Weapons diverted from the U.S. and from militaries are plaguing the region. Governments can do more to combat the phenomenon.

Murder is on the rise in Latin America. In Ecuador, after a large drop in homicides until 2016, murder rates spiked from 6 to 15 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 and to 26 in 2022. In Jamaica, homicide rates neared 50, while Honduras’s were estimated at 36 in 2022. (For reference, the U.S.’s homicide rate is 6.) A chief factor behind this epidemic of armed violence is the diversion of, and illicit trafficking in, small arms and light weapons (SALW) across the region. These weapons are responsible for over 60% of homicides. But where do they come from—and how can the illegal traffic...

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