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San Pedro Sula - where there are three murders daily

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Honduran city of San Pedro Sula has topped a new list of the world's most violent places on earth. Topping a list comprised exclusively of Central American cities, at least three murders are reported each day there. The majority of killings are at the hands of vicious gangs and drug cartels that operate unimpeded in a land of lawlessness, poverty and a decaying justice system.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - San Pedro Sula reports 1,218 homicides in 2012, or a rate of 3.3 murders a day. San Pedro Sula was followed by Acapulco, Mexico; Caracas, Venezuela and Distrito Central, Honduras.

Adding to the chaos and disarray is the fact that San Pedro Sula is saddled with one of South America's weakest economies. Nearly 70 percent of the population lives in abject poverty.
 
Many who live there turn to crime as their only source of livelihood. Others flee to the promises of a better life in the United States.

Maras or street gangs have evolved into deadly organized crime syndicates. Mexican drug traffickers have bought up land and recruit their own squads of killers.

Justice is slow, if at all. Nearly half of the country's prisoners have not been convicted and many wait years before they even get a hearing.

Others die in jailhouse stabbings, shootings or fires like the one which surged through the Comayagua prison in February 2012, trapping prisoners in their cells who were burned alive.

Police, ineffective and corrupt, have allowed gunmen to take control of slums and villages.

The list of the most violent cities was put together by the Citizen Council for Public Security, Justice and Peace, a Mexico-based think tank, using 2012 crime statistics from the western hemisphere.

The Most Violent Cities

1. San Pedro Sula, Honduras
2. Acapulco, México
3. Caracas, Venezuela
4. Distrito Central, Honduras
5. Torreón, México
6. Maceió, Brazil
7. Cali, Colombia
8. Nuevo Laredo, México
9. Barquisimeto, Venezuela
10. João Pessoa, Brazil

Rogue police death squads are operating with impunity across Honduras, taking the law into their own hands and acting as judge, jury and executioner.

Despite millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Honduras aimed at professionalizing the country's police, the Associated Press has learned in the past three years that Honduran prosecutors have received as many as 150 formal complaints about death squad-style killings in the capital of Tegucigalpa, and at least 50 more in the economic hub of San Pedro Sula.

Police have long been accused of operating more like assassins than law enforcement officers in Honduras, but few cases ever have been investigated.

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