Barrio 18 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

Barrio 18 Profile

Barrio 18 (M-18)

Barrio 18 (M-18)

The 18th Street Gang, also known as "Barrio 18" or the "M-18," is one of the largest youth gangs in the Western Hemisphere. Like its better known rival, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), the Barrio 18 has cells operating from Central America to Canada, including the United States. With thousands of members across hundreds of kilometers, and interests in a number of different illicit activities, Barrio 18 is one of the more significant emerging criminal threats in the region. Still, it is questionable how far its different units are coordinated across borders, or even within the same city.

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More Barrio 18 News

  • 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.

  • 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 US Gang El Salvador Won't Admit Exists

    "13" is added to gangs' names to show they are La Eme affiliates

    In the second part of this two-part series on the history of southern California gangs in El Salvador, anthropologist Juan Jose Martinez looks at a conflict involving one prominent gang leader, Casper, and discusses how the presence of the Sureños gangs associated with Casper -- which, like its larger cousins MS13 and Barrio 18, are mostly made up of those deported from California in the 1990s -- are largely ignored by the state. For part one of this series, see here

  • El Salvador's Other Gang from California: the Sureños

    The Sureños are El Salvador's little talked about "other" gangs

    It is common when talking about gangs -- or maras -- in El Salvador to mention only the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and the Barrio 18. However, they are far from the only ones.

  • The El Salvador Gang Rebellion that Made Zacatecoluca Bleed: Part 2

    Gang members pose on Chinchontepec

    In the first photo, there’s three of them: the first guy is fully dressed in military garb, with olive green camouflage, and hoists an M-16 with a practiced pose: the index finger just outside the trigger, the retractable stock pointing upwards, and the barrel pointing at the ground. The next one is wearing a dark police uniform, a bulletproof vest and, on top of the vest, harnesses in which he’s carrying two extra magazines for the M-16 rifle he’s pointing to the sky. The National Civil Police (PNC) emblem is prominent on his right sleeve. The third one looks like the youngest. He’s also wearing a dark police uniform. He’s holding a long-barreled rifle in one hand and making a Barrio 18 gang sign with the other. The three are gang members.

  • The El Salvador Gang Rebellion that Made Zacatecoluca Bleed: Part 1

    Shooting victim Felipe Guardado (credit: Fred Ramos)

    In early 2014, a faction of El Salvador's Barrio 18 gang known at the Revolutionaries decided to kill one of their own. Upon finding this out, rather than trying to hide, the condemned man declared war against his own gang. Since then, in the city of Zacatecoluca and along the sides of the Chichontepec volcano, everyone has been sleeping with one eye open and one hand on the trigger: gang members, municipal police agents, other police and farmers. It's an area that's become a battle zone, where everyone has decided to impose their version of the law by gunfire. Residents are now asking what will happen once everything has gone up in flames.