Sicarios: Latin American Assassins

The famous drug dealer, Jose Francisco Villahermosa together with his wife and two sons were killed by gunshot in the late afternoon in zone 2 in Guatemala City. Photo by Javier Arcenillas

The famous drug dealer, Jose Francisco Villahermosa together with his wife and two sons were killed by gunshot in the late afternoon in zone 2 in Guatemala City. Photo by Javier Arcenillas

One of the most popular and respected professions in Latin America is that of the sicarios: the hit man or assassin. Prices are variable for killing someone and can range from as little as $20 up to tens of thousands. In Guatemala, Salvador and Mexico many young people, including minors, are seduced by the lure of easy money and the respect and fear that comes with the job.

Professional hit men are indoctrinated in school in the most destitute areas. In their training, young people begin killing dogs and pets to loosen their inhibitions about killing. Aspiring sicarios have to kill a person in a situation that involves risk. Once a target has been killed, the murderer has to attend the funeral of the victim to demonstrate their nerve and make sure no one saw them committing the crime. If they satisfy this requirement, they become a professional assassin.

Young murderers demand respect and instill fear by intimidating bus drivers and small businesses while the most experienced killers sell their professional services to groups of Colombian or Mexican gangs, drug traffickers who are in a constant battle for control of the border for drug and human trafficking. Their expertise built with guns and nerves is used to settle scores and battle for control over border areas and lucrative drug and human trafficking.

In 2009, there were over 21,000 murders at the hands of thugs in Latin America. The killers lead violent lives and suffer the consequences. The life expectancy for the young sicarios is 27 years.

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