As murders surge in Guayaquil, the city has moved up dramatically in international rankings of cities with the highest murder rates. In 2022, Guayaquil ranked 24 among what Insight Crime labels the “most murderous” cities. The city entered the list in 2021 at number 50, the first time an Ecuadorian city has ranked in the top 50
National Police reported 1,537 murders in Guayaquil in 2022 compared to 992 in 2021. Ecuador’s Interior Ministry blames 75% of the city’s 2022 homicides on criminal gang activity, most of it related to the transport of illegal drugs.
Of the world’s cities with the highest murder rates, 17 are in Mexico, 10 are in Brazil, seven are in the United States and six are in Colombia.
Four lists compiled by crime statistics organizations, based on police records, are in agreement on the rankings.The lists count cities with populations of more than 100,000 and exclude cities in Venezuela due to lack of reporting. Venezuela is believed to have some of the highest murder rates in the world.
According to the Mexican organization, Citizens Council for Security, Justice and Peace, Guayaquil showed the most rapid rise in murders from 2021 to 2022 of all ranked cities.
In comments, the council noted the “extreme dichotomy” in murder rates in Ecuadorian coastal and sierra region cities.
“In addition to Guayaquil, the port cities of Machala, Manta and Esmeraldas indicated dramatic rises in murders in 2022, all with rates of more than 25 per 100,000 residents.” It added that most murders in the four cities are related to drug activity involving international shipments.
By contrast, the council said larger cities in Ecuador’s Andean region, including Quito, Cuenca, Ambato, Riobamba and Loja, have murder rates between 4% and 7%, near the international average of 5.4%.
Reacting to the city’s murder ranking, the Guayaquil public safety office issued a “clarification” regarding recent news reports. “While we regret the increase in murders in our city, it should be pointed out that 68% of these crimes occur in three neighborhoods where criminal gangs operate. Although the general population must remain alert to violent crime, it should be remembered that most areas of Guayaquil are safe.”
Cities with the highest murder rates in the world in 2022
(Source: Citizens Council for Security, Justice and Peace of Mexico)