El Salvador News

US Congress Members Request Investigation of El Salvador Official Linked to Organized Crime

US Congress Members Request Investigation of El Salvador Official Linked to Organized Crime

Fourteen members of the US Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, signed a letter on June 21 in which they called upon the Treasury Department to open an official investigation of Salvadoran political leader and current Vice Minister of Foreign Relations José Luis Merino for "long-standing associations with transnational organized criminal networks [that] are the subject of US criminal investigations."

El Salvador Profile

El Salvador

El Salvador

El Salvador is a relatively small but growing player in the drug trafficking business. It serves as a drug recipient and storage point along the Pacific Coast, and a bridge via the Pan-American Highway, the Fonseca Gulf, and roads from Honduras that cut through relatively unpopulated areas.

More El Salvador News

  • GameChangers 2016: Elites, Organized Crime and Political Firestorms

    President Dilma Rousseff was removed from obvious amid a widening corruption scandal

    Welcome to InSight Crime's GameChangers 2016, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas. This year we put a spotlight on crime and corruption among the region's political elites, while reporting on government struggles to corral criminality fueled by street gangs, drug cartels and Marxist rebels alike.

  • El Salvador Fake Agents Scam Indicative of DEA Image Problem

    DEA Agent Javier Pena from Netflix series "Narcos"

    Authorities in El Salvador have arrested two men for allegedly impersonating Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in an extortion scheme, in a case that reflects the shady image that often plagues the US agency in Latin America.

  • The El Salvador Gang That Kills Its Gay Members

    The inside of a prison in El Salvador

    A double homicide inside a juvenile detention center uncovered an unwritten rule within El Salvador's MS13 gang: under no circumstances are members allowed to be homosexual.

  • Growing Number of El Salvador Security Forces Face Charges

    Police officers in El Salvador

    The number of security officials in El Salvador who have been charged with a crime rose by over 50 percent in 2016, a development that may well be linked to the growing hostilities between police and the country's formidable street gangs. 

  • Report Says El Salvador Gangs Have Created a Parallel State

    An MS13 graffiti being painted over by an official in El Salvador

    A new study argues that powerful street gangs have gone a long way toward creating a parallel state in El Salvador, providing a helpful framework to illustrate the extent to which the gangs impact society and undermine state governance.

  • The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

    José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does not mention that he amassed a fortune of $60 million, all the while escaping the justice system.

  • In About-Face, El Salvador Govt Reopens 'Chepe Diablo' Case

    José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias Chepe Diablo

    When Luis Martínez was the Attorney General in 2015, he ordered his subordinates to shelve the money laundering investigation against businessman José Adán Salazar Umaña. Now, with Martínez out and facing accusations of corruption, the Attorney General’s Office has reactivated the case against Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," and members of his so-called Texis Cartel, and it has officially requested information from the United States and various countries of Central America through diplomatic channels. 

  • Cargo Robberies in Northern Triangle Hamper Regional Commerce

    Authorities investigate the scene of a cargo robbery

    Criminal groups are stealing commercial shipments transiting Central America's Northern Triangle, illustrating how insecurity in the region is negatively impacting regional trade.

  • El Salvador Police Prepare to Take Their Own Revenge Against Gangs

    Police officers outside a funeral for a slain colleague

    The same day they buried the seventh police officer killed by gang members in November, the government announced a new response plan, "Nemesis," which means revenge. This plan stems from measures that have already been implemented and promises very little. However, before the government's new commitment, police have said they are taking their own measures; some of them have decided to flee, others have chosen to create cells across the country to kill gang members and their families. The authorities have denied this on camera and declare that it is "speculation."

  • The Unbelievable Hell Inside El Salvador’s Prisons

    El Salvador's prisons are chronically overcrowded

    A plague of fungal skin diseases, untreated deadly infections, constant threats of tuberculosis epidemics, people fed with their own hands, extreme overcrowding and children locked up with their mothers. This is what the human rights observers reported during the first few months of the extraordinary measures implemented across prisons for El Salvador's gang members.

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El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

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.

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...