Prosecutors in El Salvador have filed court documents alleging that MS13 leaders sought to arm an "elite unit" of the gang with high-powered weapons purchased in Mexico and Guatemala, an indication that the group's transnational connections contribute to its domestic clout.
A massive roundup of high ranking MS13 gang members by El Salvador authorities targeting the financial structure of the gang also netted a self proclaimed activist and former gang member whose human rights work documenting alleged police abuses has many questioning the prosecution’s motives.
A massive operation that has bared the finances of El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang offers compelling evidence of a long suspected theory: government benefits extended to the country’s gang leaders in connection with a 2012-2013 truce were used to strengthen their criminal organizations.
One of the largest operations ever launched against El Salvador's MS13 gang confirmed what has long been suspected -- the gang's leadership maintain extensive and sophisticated financial networks that extend far beyond the violence plagued barrios controlled by their rank and file members.
El Salvador is the most violent peacetime nation in the world, seemingly stuck in a perpetual cycle of gang hostilities and truculent police behavior. A new security approach could quell inflamed tensions, and just might lower the country's elevated homicide rate -- for good this time.