El Salvador News

Under the Gaze of Police, Residents Flee El Salvador Gangs

Under the Gaze of Police, Residents Flee El Salvador Gangs

More than ten families abandon their homes, fleeing the threat of massacre from Barrio 18. A man cries furiously as he will have to sleep in the flophouse room of a family member with his three children. The head of the National Civil Police's anti-gang unit arrives on the scene and asks people to pray. This is the flight of... 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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  • Under the Gaze of Police, Residents Flee El Salvador Gangs

    More than ten families abandon their homes, fleeing the threat of massacre from Barrio 18. A man cries furiously as he will have to sleep in the flophouse room of a family member with his three children. The head of the National Civil Police's anti-gang unit arrives on the scene and asks people to pray. This is the flight of many families from the San Valentin condominiums in Mejicanos, located in San Salvador's Metropolitan Area.

  • El Salvador Gang Leaders Confirm Truce

    El Salvador gang leaders confirmed that they have agreed amongst themselves to reduce violence, setting the stage for a new political war over the dynamics of El Salvador's homicide rate. 

  • 'New Gang Truce' Announced in El Salvador

    Raul Mijango

    El Salvador's gangs have reportedly committed to a new truce, which, if true, is apparently intended to show the government that the gangs exert major influence over the country's violence levels, and that their demands must be taken seriously. 

  • 500 Counterfeit Police Uniforms Seized in El Salvador

    Factory where 500 fake police uniforms were seized

    Authorities in El Salvador seized 500 fake police uniforms that may have been intended for use as disguises for gang members, as clashes between the country's street gangs and security forces intensify.

  • Latin America Dominates List of World's Most Violent Cities

    A police officer in Medellin, Colombia

    By one watchdog's count, about 86 percent of the world's most violent cities are based in Latin America, a phenomenon that has remained constant for the past four years.

  • El Salvador Police Chief Targets Rising Gang Violence

    El Salvador's Police Director Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde

    In a stark statement illustrating the gravity of the current situation in El Salvador, the director of the country's civilian police force (PNC) said law enforcement had permission to shoot criminals whenever necessary.

  • El Salvador Moves Gang Leaders Back to Max-Security Prison

    Government officials meet inmates at El Salvador's maximum-security prison

    Several months after the demise of El Salvador's 2012 gang truce, leaders of the country's most powerful street gangs are being moved back into maximum-security prisons, finalizing the break with the previous administration's security policy. 

  • The Death Foretold of an El Salvador Gang Informant

    Miguel Angel Tobar, after his death

    Miguel Angel Tobar was a protected witness for the government of El Salvador who admittedly killed over 50 people but also helped put more than 30 gang members in prison. He was killed while hiding out in one of the most peaceful parts of the country. This is the second of a two-part series. See part one here.

  • El Salvador Government Releases Plan To Reduce Violence

    El Salvador policeman at a violence prevention class

    Several weeks after the El Salvador government announced it would not seek to restart talks of a truce between local gangs, a special security council released a 124-point action plan detailing how the government can act to slow the spread of violence in the country.

  • The Gang Informant El Salvador Failed to Protect

    Murdered MS13 member Miguel Angel Tobar

    Miguel Angel Tobar was an assassin and a former member of a faction of El Salvador's biggest gang, the MS13. He was murdered on Friday, November 21, 2014 by hit men. He was also a key witness for the Attorney General's Office who helped send more than 30 gang members to prison. He was a man that the state had promised to protect. This is the story of a man that both the police and the Attorney General's Office knew would be assassinated.