2011 Winner

Sicarios: Latin American Assassins

Javier Arcenillas- Winner of the 2011 FotoEvidence Book Award

Book Award Years

One of the most popular and respected professions in Latin America is that of the sicario, the hitman or assassin. Prices are variable for killing someone and can range from as little as $20 up to tens of thousands of dollars. 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 can 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, 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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