In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence and extortion.
In our October 5 Facebook Live session, Co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos about InSight Crime's ongoing coverage of the MS13 -- in particular, the links between the gang's leadership in El Salvador and the cells of the gang operating on the US East Coast.
Around 85 percent of gang members in El Salvador have thought about distancing themselves from gang life or leaving entirely. But with few reported success stories, little is known about this process. In March 2017, a study by Florida International University (FIU) examined the dynamics behind the dangerous choice to abandon gang life and the challenges faced by ex-members seeking to reintegrate into society.
September in El Salvador saw 435 homicides -- almost 15 per day -- making it the country's most violent month in 2017, according to official figures. And this escalation in bloodshed comes against a backdrop of contradictory public policies promoted by the government of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
On September 20 in a Boston federal court, the US Department of Justice charged Edwin Mancía Flores, alias "Shugar," with involvement in a racketeering conspiracy related to the MS13 gang. But US authorities say that Mancía isn't just any gang member. In fact, they accuse the leader of the MS13's Everett Loco Salvatrucha "clique" of directing the gang's efforts to consolidate its presence on the US East Coast from a prison in El Salvador.
In our September 28 Facebook Live session, senior editor Mike LaSusa spoke with freelance journalist Nicholas Phillips about his recent investigation into the life of Dany Romero, and how Romero's story illustrates the complexities of determining who is a gang member in El Salvador.
Dany Balmore Romero García faces trial in El Salvador on charges of participating in gang activities and conspiring to commit murder. The case against him illustrates just how difficult it is to determine who is a gang member, and why it's so important.