Barrio 18 News

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

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

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... 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

  • 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.

  • Report Details How El Salvador Gangs Use Rape As Weapon

    The shoes of a woman murdered in El Salvador

    An article on sexual violence and femicide in El Salvador demonstrates the alarming extent to which gang members use rape to terrorize local communities and the degree to which this practice forms a part of gang culture.

  • El Salvador Squashes Talk of Dialogue With Gangs

    Members of the El Salvador's security council

    El Salvador's new national security council has denied reports that it will re-open dialogues with the country's principal street gangs, essentially putting a nail in the coffin of a national gang truce that appeared to dramatically lower murder rates, before breaking down. 

  • El Salvador's Barrio 18, MS13 Learn to Farm

    El Salvador gang members learning to farm

    A new initiative is teaching gang members in El Salvador vocational skills like farming and carpentry work, in an encouraging sign of government efforts to rehabilitate gang members rather than relying solely on repressive measures to address crime. 

  • El Salvador Probes 'Irregularities' in Failed Gang Truce

    Salvadoran Attorney General Luis Martinez

    Investigators are close to finishing their probe into whether the negotiators of the country's failed gang truce broke any laws, according to El Salvador's attorney general. However, taking down the people behind the truce will not solve the new government's security dilemma.

  • El Salvador Gangs and Security Forces Up the Ante in Post-Truce Battle

    Suspected El Salvador gang member arrested

    Since the dissolution of the gang truce, assassinations of police and military personnel and clashes between gangs and security forces have changed the security equation in El Salvador, closing any small window left to revive the short-lived and highly criticized ceasefire.

  • Honduras Prosecutors 'Killed by Barrio 18 Gang'

    The car where the Honduran prosecutors were killed

    The murder of two prosecutors in Honduras is a reminder that even though the country has made progress in capturing the heads of transnational drug trafficking organizations, there is still a long way to go in mitigating gang violence and improving citizen security.

  • Mapping MS13, Barrio 18 Territory in Guatemala City

    Officials in Guatemala have identified the areas of the capital controlled by the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs, illustrating the degree of gang infiltration in the city with the third highest homicide rate in the world.

  • How El Salvador Handed its Prisons to the Mara Street Gangs

    September 2 was the 10th anniversary of the decision of El Salvador's government to assign exclusive jails to the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs. The measure is now considered by academics and researchers as one that facilitated the evolution of the gangs, but very few opposed it while it was happening. Now, the question is whether reversing the segregation is viable or not.