South America: Maritime Crime

Last year, South America witnessed the highest rise in the incidence of maritime crime in any region in the world.  Armed robbery, attacks, boarding and theft from vessels at anchor have in some areas, replaced traditional criminal activities such as narcotics smuggling and a petty crime against recreational craft at anchor, particularly in the Caribbean.  Ports in Brazil, Peru, Haiti and Ecuador have all seen a rise in the level of criminal activity and violence against ships crews is now commonplace.

In 2021, 45% of all reported maritime incidents that involved Piracy and Robbery took place in South America and the Caribbean Arc.

According to the latest figures, 2021 recorded a significant drop in the number of maritime security incidents that were reported globally.  In comparison with 2020, the incidence of Piracy and Robbery fell by 25% with the most significant reduction seen in the Gulf of Guinea, believed in part, to be the result of greater cooperation between the Gulf States, focussed operations such as Nigeria’s ‘Deep Blue’ Project and an increased International Naval presence.  Regions where conventionally high levels of maritime crime were prevalent, such as West Africa, are now being surpassed by the number of events reported in South East Asia and perhaps surprisingly, South America and the Caribbean.

The rise of incidents of maritime crime against shipping in South America may have many reasons, many consider social inequality to be a major contributing factor to levels of violence in Latin America, while others blame criminal gangs for the high rates of crime.  Where local security authorities lack either the will or resources to tackle this growing problem, the employment of security guards (armed where permitted) in these areas of heightened threat, can often provide the reassurance that ship’s crews need and are entitled to. Download the latest Intelligence Report.

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