A recent study of El Salvador's gang phenomenon has shown that, while it is possible for gang members to abandon these groups, desistance depends on several factors, including the gangs' own acquiescence.
Official data shows homicides have decreased significantly in El Salvador during the past year, but contrary to statements by the authorities, the government's extraordinary anti-gang measures are not the only reason for the steep decline.
Authorities in El Salvador dismantled a MS13 network allegedly dedicated to forcing women into marriages before assassinating the husband to collect insurance money, a scheme that speaks to the gang's growing business sophistication.
El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.