• 'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

    Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well as in parts of Maryland and Virginia, all host to tens of thousands of Central American immigrants. In early 2016, he participated in the investigation, which led to the sentencing of half a dozen MS13 members from the "Sailors Loco" clique in Virginia. Among the charges for sentencing were eight counts of homicide. Currently on the verge of retirement, LeValley believes that the Salvadoran gang has entered a new expansion phase along the East Coast of the United States.

  • The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

    Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and the murders of several youths. Investigations also show an increase in communications between MS13 members incarcerated in El Salvador and gang cliques in Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. And they illustrate that the incarcerated gang leadership has given explicit orders for the cells in those areas to take back the East Coast.

  • Lack of State Control Credited With Rise of El Salvador Death Squad

    Police officers in El Salvador

    Numerous sources told Al Jazeera that the authorities' inability to reduce crime in El Salvador has contributed to the rise of a shadowy group dedicated to killing suspected gang members, but the government's attempts to take back control are only exacerbating the violence. 

  • How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

    Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices of the Mexican Mafia, only to see his network unravel just as quickly.

  • How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

    In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to be called "The Project."

  • El Salvador Authorities Blame MS13 for Surge in Killings of Police

    El Salvador police with detained gang members

    Authorities in El Salvador say the MS13 is responsible for the eruption of violence against police officers this month, a sure sign that the security forces will scale up their offensive against the gang. 

  • Alleged MS13 Members in El Salvador Caught Selling Illicit Horse Meat

    Horses recovered by authorities in El Salvador

    Authorities in El Salvador have arrested 39 alleged members of the MS13 for planning to sell 5,600 pounds of contraband horse meat, a potential sign of the gang's increasing sophistication as it seeks to diversify its criminal revenue streams.

  • New El Salvador Gang Strategy Targets Public Officials: Report

    El Salvador's gangs have reportedly made a joint pact to attack the government

    El Salvador's three main gangs have reportedly joined forces to carry out strategic assassinations against public officials, which if true would mark a troubling development in the gangs' conflict with the state.

  • El Salvador's FMLN: Talking Peace While Waging War

    El Salvador President Salvador Sánchez Cerén

    A series of videos showing officials from President Salvador Sánchez Cerén's administration holding secret negotiations with the country's principal street gangs prior to taking power have called into question the ruling FMLN's motives for talking to the gangs in the first place. Were they seeking an end to the gang wars or was it a way to prepare what has become a massive government offensive against them?

  • El Salvador to Investigate Meetings Between Officials, Gangs: Report

    El Salvador Attorney General Douglas Meléndez

    El Salvador's Attorney General indicated that his office may investigate the recently revealed meetings between two high-level government officials and gang leaders, raising the question of how prosecutors will proceed in a case fraught with political implications.