El Salvador News

El Salvador Detains Officials in Ongoing Fight Against Corruption

El Salvador Detains Officials in Ongoing Fight Against Corruption

El Salvador has taken down a network of colluding officials from within its judiciary, a sign that the momentum against corruption propeled by Attorney General Douglas Meléndez remains strong.

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

  • 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.

  • 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 the murders of several youths. Investigations also show an increase in communications between MS13 members incarcerated in El Salvador and gang cliques in Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. And they illustrate that the incarcerated gang leadership has given explicit orders for the cells in those areas to take back the East Coast.

  • The Bus Route That Institutionalized Extortion in El Salvador

    Extortion payments are deducted from some bus drivers' salaries

    In El Salvador, extortion demanded by gangs has become so normalized that there is a bus company that deducts the cost of extortion directly from drivers' payroll in order to make an annual payment to the Barrio 18. The drivers understand it: refusing to pay is equivalent to death and reporting the extortion, in a lawless state that has lost all territorial control, would do very little.

Investigations

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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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network. The BACRIM's roots lie in the demobilized paramilitary umbrella group the United Self-Defense...

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...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

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: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...