Gang members in El Salvador

El Salvador police have said rising homicides indicate the country's gang truce effectively no longer exists, raising questions as to whether the violence is because gang leaders have abandoned the pact, or have lost control of the ranks.

Rigoberto Pleites, director of El Salvador's National Police (PNC), told media police believe the two-year-old truce between the rival MS13 and Barrio 18 street gangs "technically no longer exists, given the increase in homicides in the past months," reported El Diario de Hoy.

However, Pleites added it was not for the police to pronounce the death of the truce, and whether it has a future depends on decisions made by the gang leaders.

In El Salvador, 484 homicides were reported between January 1 and March 1 this year, an average of eight per day. According to Pleites, street gangs were responsible for between 60 to 70 percent of the murders, and most of those were disputes between the groups.

InSight Crime Analysis

The gang truce in El Salvador has been slowly disintegrating for some time. Ricardo Perdomo, El Salvador's Security and Justice Minister, said this past November the truce was all but dead due to a rising murder rate, speculation that was fueled by the unearthing of mass graves linked to the gangs.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

However, for the police to unofficially pronounce the truce dead is a watermark in proceedings, especially since the truce has already been all but abandoned by political leaders ahead of elections. It is likely that all that now remains is for the truce's supporters and the gang leadership to admit the pact's failure, and for the post-mortem into its death to begin.

In the initial period of the truce, imprisoned leaders demonstrated a surprising ability to control mid-level commanders of semi-independent local units, or "clicas," and lower overall violence. The steadily rising homicides, therefore, raise questions as to whether these leaders no longer retain the obedience of the clicas and whether the individual factions have broken ranks and are acting independently.

If this is the case then it may represent a breakdown of the command hierarchy. Alternatively, it could be that the initial obedience was artificial and only in response to gang leaders' selling the benefits of the truce to clica heads. If the leaders of the clicas no longer see these benefits, this may explain their return to violence.

Investigations

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

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

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...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...