The Boston Globe recently ran another story about the scourge of Central America gangs. One new statistic is an estimate that gangs have depressed the economic output of Central America by as much as 25%:
In recent years, the two major gangs have become far more vicious and sophisticated, forming alliances with organized crime in prison and shuttling operatives between the United States and their home countries. Their trademark beheadings, mutilations, and torture-killings of rival gangsters, informants, and other victims have made them a top priority of the FBI's criminal enterprise branch.
In Central America, governments have experimented with get-tough laws, only to see crime worsen every year. Violence and extortion -- from petty ''taxes" levied on bus drivers and corner shopkeepers to tens of thousands of dollars demanded of a major soda company in El Salvador -- have scared off investors, shaving regional gross domestic product by some 25 percent, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.(more).