• Tensions Rise over Dissident MS13 Faction in El Salvador

    MS13 graffiti

    A breakaway faction of El Salvador's MS13 gang has reportedly been the source of increasing conflict, underlining how gang rivalries and violence can contribute to cycles of retaliation.

  • Weekly InSight: Debunking the Trump Administration's Alternative Facts about MS13

    US President Donald Trump

    In our April 20 Facebook Live session, Co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos about the recent rhetorical offensive launched against the MS13 by the administration of US President Donald Trump.

  • 7 Things the Trump Administration Gets Wrong about MS13

    US President Donald Trump

    US President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions launched a rhetorical campaign this week against the MS13, one of the most violent gangs in Central America. But the verbal offensive by the president and the attorney general, as well as their statements on the origins and evolution of the gang, are for the most part false or misleading.

  • Report Recommends Less Repressive Approach to Gang Problem in CentAm

    Gang violence continues to plague Central America

    A new report by a leading watchdog and policy group says that Central America's Northern Triangle governments should find a middle ground that balances the need for engaging with the region's violent street gangs, while still maintaining the rule of law and the governments' legitimacy.

  • Arrest of Top MS13 Gang Leader in Guatemala Highlights Cooperation

    Top MS13 leader Pedro Benjamín Rivas Zelaya, alias “El Sniper”

    The arrest in Guatemala of a high-ranking MS13 leader wanted by El Salvador's authorities illustrates how regional cooperation yields results, even while raising questions on how best to tackle the regional migration of the powerful gang members.

  • Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

    Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork related to one. There is nothing scientific about olfato, yet it seems as if that is the guiding measure as it relates to determining this crucial question: What is behind the steady stream of homicides in Central America, or in this case, Guatemala?

  • Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

    When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some of these forms go into paper files. Others go into computer files. Some of them are summarized and sent to headquarters. Others remain at precinct or even sub-precinct level. As will become evident, much of it is quickly buried amidst a pile of papers that will literally fade with time, or within a computer file, which will most likely be erased or lost by the next person who has that job.

  • Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

    In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla, Zacapa, and Chiquimula. The northern department of Petén, which encompasses nearly a third of the country's land mass, also routinely has some of the highest homicide rates.[1]

  • Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

    When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

  • MS13 Selling Weapons, Seeking New Profits

    The MS13 is reportedly selling weapons in San Salvador's historic center

    The street gang MS13 is reportedly selling weapons in El Salvador's capital, a sign that the gang might be seeking new revenue streams.