A recent prison massacre in El Salvador is indicative of the government's problematic response to the nation's ongoing security crisis. 

Members of the Barrio 18 street gang killed 14 members of Barrio 18's Revolucionarios faction, or "clique," during an "internal purge" at the Quezaltepeque prison in El Salvador's southwestern La Libertad department, reported local media

The motive behind the killings is still unknown. Barrio 18's Revolucionarios faction is suspected of killing seven bus drivers during a gang-enforced transportation strike in July. 

Authorities admitted to having prior warning of a possible purge, but were unaware of the "silent" attacks while they occurred, EFE quoted prisons director Rodil Hernandez as saying.

Prison violence is an ongoing issue in El Salvador, with as many as 31 people killed during a particularly bloody gang dispute at the Mariona facility in 2004. Two other gang members were killed in Quezaltepeque in May. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The government's response to this latest prison massacre seems dismissive at best, with officials fully admitting they were warned ahead of time. Nor has anyone yet publically proposed ways to try and address this type of prison violence. This is unsurprising, given the administrations' hysterical rhetoric and current focus on militarized or "iron fist" security policies.

El Salvador continues to suffer some of the worst violence in a decade, with each month's homicide rates higher than the last. However, instead of calling for a different approach, Public Security Minister Benito Lara has framed rising murder statistics as a positive development, attributable to police being more effective and shooting more criminals.

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Within this context, incidents of gang members killing other gang members is likely a non-issue for authorities. This may especially hold true, given that the gang faction under attack -- the Revolucionarios -- is accused of instigating an transportation strike which highlighted the government's inability to maintain order. 

As resources in El Salvdor remain limited, it is highly unlikely that inmate rights will receive much attention in the near future, particularly when previous proposals have centered around limiting those rights. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Jorge 40'

Rodrigo Tovar Pupo never imagined it would come to this: dressed in an orange jumpsuit in a Washington DC courtroom and standing in front of a United States federal judge, the grandson of a wealthy Colombian cattle rancher and nephew to a governor was facing a possible...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: The Cachiros

As it tends to happen in Honduras, the news began as a well-heeled rumor: Javier Rivera Maradiaga, the oldest of the three Rivera Maradiaga brothers still alive and leader of the feared and powerful Honduran drug trafficking group known as the Cachiros, had handed himself in to...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Guatemala is Central America’s most populous country and its largest economy. But an intransigent elite, an ambitious military and a weak state has opened the way for organized crime to flourish, especially since the return of democracy.

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Elites and Organized Crime: Preface

Organized crime is not an abstract concept for me. I grew up in Oak Park, a leafy suburb of Chicago with a population of about 60,000. In general, it was a very low crime city, which is perhaps why many mobsters made their homes there, among them...

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

Elites and Organized Crime: Conceptual Framework - Organized Crime

This project defines organized crime as: a structured group of people that associate on a regular and prolonged basis to benefit from illicit activities and illegal markets. This group can be local, national or transnational in nature, and its existence is maintained using violence and threats; corruption...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The CICIG

Like any arm of the justice system, the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG) had its battles with elites who used their charm and their muscle to try to influence what and who the celebrated commission...

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

Guatemala Elites and Organized Crime: The 'Huistas'

In the northwest corner of Guatemala, a little known criminal organization known as the "Huistas" dominates the underworld, in large part due its ties with businessmen, law enforcement officials and politicians.

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: 'Don Berna'

By the end of 1993, Pablo Escobar was cornered. The cocaine king -- known as "El Patrón" -- was running out of money and options. His top assassins were either dead or had turned themselves in. Almost all of the senior members of the Medellín Cartel were...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros

On the morning of April 5, 1988, Juan Ramón Matta Ballesteros left his palatial Tegucigalpa estate for a jog. Matta Ballesteros was wanted for murder, drug trafficking and other crimes in several countries, but in Honduras he felt safe. He regularly hosted parties for high-level officials at...