MS13 News

Half the Illegal Weapons in El Salvador Come from US: Official

Half the Illegal Weapons in El Salvador Come from US: Official

According to a US official, around half of the illegal weapons circulating in El Salvador come from the United States. This black market trade may be facilitated by the MS13 gang, which has a presence in both countries. Read More

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MS13

MS13

The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its origins in the poor, refugee-laden neighborhoods of 1980s Los Angeles, the gang’s reach now extends from Central American nations like El Salvador and through Mexico, the United States, and Canada. They rob, extort and bully their way into neighborhoods and have gradually turned to transnational crimes such as human smuggling and drug trafficking. Their activities have helped make the Northern Triangle -- Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras -- the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a "transnational criminal organization," the first such designation for a US street gang. 

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More MS-13 News

  • Half the Illegal Weapons in El Salvador Come from US: Official

    According to a US official, around half of the illegal weapons circulating in El Salvador come from the United States. This black market trade may be facilitated by the MS13 gang, which has a presence in both countries.

  • Informants Shed Light on Structure of MS13 in Guatemala

    Former MS13 members in Guatemala have provided a breakdown of the rankings and pay scales within the gang's hierarchy, which serve as another indication of this organization's increasingly sophisticated structure. 

  • 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. 

  • Hidden Meanings of Honduras Mara Gang Tattoos Explained

    Police in Honduras say they have decoded the symbolic meanings of common tattoos used by the country's "mara" street gangs, although gang members have increasingly hidden these displays of affiliation from view as a reaction to hardline security measures.

  • Rival El Salvador Gangs Announce 'Phase 2' of Truce

    Gangs in El Salvador have announced a new phase of their 2012 truce, committing to end attacks between rival groups and against the security forces, but it is unlikely that the current government will be willing to follow the path of its predecessor and offer concessions to the warring groups in exchange for a reduction in violence.

  • How MS13 and Barrio 18 are Extending Their Reach to Nicaragua

    Young people in Nicaragua who migrate to Honduras and El Salvador for work have been influenced by powerful street gangs MS13 and Barrio 18, leading to the development of local groups modeled after these gangs. A radio broadcast examines the phenomenon.

  • Guatemala Arms, Explosives Seizures Point to Gang Sophistication

    Authorities in Guatemala have seized an extensive weapons cache and remotely operated explosives belonging to the country's "mara" street gangs, in an indication these groups are growing in sophistication -- a trend also seen in El Salvador and Honduras.

  • El Salvador Investigates both Sets of Gang Truce Negotiators

    El Salvador's attorney general has confirmed that his office is investigating the actions of both sets of negotiators in the country's gang truce, suggesting there will be no more semi-official attempts at mediation with gangs under the new administration.

  • El Salvador Gangs Teach Honduras Counterparts Secret Codes

    Imprisoned gang leaders in Honduras are receiving instructions from their counterparts in El Salvador on how to transmit coded messages, reported El Heraldo, highlighting the collaboration between gangs in the two countries.