Urban areas tend to attract crime and violent activity, but there are some cities in particular where the general levels of violence are surpassed by a long way. In some of the world’s most dangerous towns and cities, the rule of law no longer applies and criminal gangs or cartels more or less rule the roost. The results for those unfortunate enough to live in these areas can be serious, with typical features being high levels of gun crime, homicides, corruption and intimidation.
Obviously it’s hard to pick out one reason that explains why all of the cities on this list have fallen into the hands of criminal elements, but there are some common factors at play. Many urban centres, particularly in Mexico and Latin America, have suffered as a result of the drugs trade and the absence of law enforcement mechanisms or their corruption by the drug cartels. Other cities have experienced wars and the destruction of infrastructure, clearing the way for ruthless organisations to take the upper hand. Then there are those cities where poverty is so endemic that criminal groups are able to exploit the weakness of everyone else to take charge.
In some of the cities discussed here, the control of criminal forces is by no means complete. Even in the most dangerous of settings, there are brave and determined people who want to take them on. This has, in fact, seen some successes. But we will also see the lack of hope in some places for any imminent change. Here come a selection of 10 cities around the world where crime holds sway.
7 San Pedro Sula
6 Guatemala City
4 Casal di Principe
1 Ciudad Juarez
Located on the US-Mexico border, Ciudad Juarez has become a hub for the massive drug smuggling trade that supplies narcotics to one of the world’s biggest markets. The police force in the town laid off over 800 officers in a bid to tackle the pervasive corruption that existed with officers having been paid by the warring drug cartels. Two drug cartels, the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, fought bitterly for control of the city beginning in 2007. The presence of the military in Juarez has been increased dramatically, and there have also been outbreaks of vigilante justice by groups attempting to tackle the violence which the government has been unable to control. Another troubling feature of the criminal domination of the area has been a large number of attacks on women, with over 300 killings in the past two decades.
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