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El Salvador Gangs Outline Political Motives of Violence

El Salvador Gangs Outline Political Motives of Violence

El Salvador's largest street gangs have indicated they wield sufficient power to influence the country's presidential elections, in a statement highlighting the gangs' use of violence as a political tool.  Read More

El Salvador Profile

El Salvador

El Salvador

El Salvador is a relatively small but growing player in the drug trafficking business, serving as a recipient and storage point along the Pacific Coast, and a bridge via the Pan-American Highway, the Fonseca Gulf, and small roads from Honduras that cut across the relatively unpopulated mountains. Local transport groups have their roots in the country’s civil war, when many ran weapons and contraband from Honduras and Nicaragua to the rebel groups. These networks now service larger criminal gangs, mostly from Mexico, moving drugs from as far south as Panama. Compounding the country’s problems are powerful street gangs, known as “maras,” which help make El Salvador one of the most dangerous places in the world, with a homicide rate of 69.2 per 100,000 in 2011 according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Significant drops in the homicide rate were registered in 2012 following a gang truce negotiated by the government, with national police reporting 2,576 murders compared to 4,371 in 2011. However, violence began to rise again after the gang truce broke down completely in 2014. 

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