Homicides in Medellin up 80% as turf wars threaten fragile peace

Homicides in Colombia’s second biggest city Medellin shot up 80% in May after tensions between local crime lords ended years of relative peace between the city’s gangs.

editors note: The tourist area are safe, being downtown late at night or certain hillside barrios is not a place for a tourist at any time of day!  Ask the locals. 

For years Medellin has boasted dropping homicide rates. However, this reduction in violent crime has been delicate, primarily because it was never the result of an effective security policy, but due to a pact between capos of local crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado and neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.

However, for months there have been renewed tensions between the different leaders of the Oficina, particularly in the downtown area where decades-old gangs called Convivir rule the streets.

Additional tensions and spikes in homicides were reported in the east and northeast of the city.

The troubles began in January, immediately after Mayor Federico Gutierrez, a long-time critic of the security policies of his predecessor Anibal Gaviria, took office.

Under Gaviria, the city’s crime lords upheld a truce, allegedly bartered by businessmen and politicians with ties to the city’s underworld.