The infiltration of criminal groups into El Salvador's security forces is a serious and ongoing threat, according to the government, and is contributing to record levels of violence experienced in the past year.
In an interview with newswire EFE, El Salvador’s Secretary of Communications for the President, Eugenio Chicas, said that the army had detected 100 cases of people affiliated with criminal groups entering, or attempting to enter, the armed forces, reported Prensa Grafica.
In addition, Chicas also stated that the National Civil Police (PNC) had found more than 200 cases of attempted criminal infiltration within their ranks.
While Chicas said that it is likely that criminal groups will continue to attempt to infiltrate the security forces, the government has “institutional filters to detect" such attempts.
Chicas' comments comes amid new data pointing to the deterioration of El Salvador's security this year. According to Prensa Grafica, 2015 alone saw more massacres than were registered in the past three years. The past year also saw the greatest number of police officers killed since the institution was founded, Prensa Grafica reported.
InSight Crime Analysis
In his comments, Chicas did not identify the period of time over which El Salvador's security forces detected these attempts by criminal groups to infiltrate their ranks. However, his remarks echo the findings previously reported by El Diario de Hoy. Via Freedom of Information Act requests, the newspaper accessed officials documents that stated 223 alleged gang members were dismissed from the army between January and September of this year. The documents also reportedly showed a marked rise in gang infiltration from previous years, and the existence of such infiltration throughout almost all divisions of the military.
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As found in a recent InSight Crime report studying gangs in Honduras, the MS13 has deployed a greater capacity in corrupting the police than other, more violent gangs. It is possible that in El Salvador, the MS13 have also become sophisticated enough to infiltrate or buy off sectors of the security forces. This would be relatively unusual behavior for a street gang and would serve as a sign of their increased sophistication.