Former President Mauricio Funes

Former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes rejected claims that his administration provided perks to gang leaders for their participation in a controversial gang truce. 

During a recent press event, Funes stressed that the truce was strictly between the gangs themselves and included no negotiations with the government, La Tribuna reported.

"The only thing the government did was monitor this agreement through the mediators," Funes added. 

Funes was referring to a 2012-2013 truce between El Salvador's two biggest street gangs Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS13), which was mediated by a third-party closely linked with the government. While the agreement initially saw a dramatic drop in homicides, negotiations collapsed in 2013 and officially ended the following year. The country has since seen record levels of violence.

Funes' denials comes after the Attorney General's Office leaked a series of audio recordings of gang witnesses who claimed that the Funes' administration provided gang leaders with perks including money, conjugal visits and transfers to lower security prisons in return for their participation in the truce. Additionally, lax security measures were allegedly implemented to facilitate the movement of mediators, who also had access to government vehicles, La Prensa Gráfica reported. 

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

Funes questioned the validity of these claims, stating that some of the witnesses were imprisoned criminals seeking reduced sentences and that the transfer of gang leaders out of maximum security prison was for security reasons not having to do with the truce, La Tribuna reported. 

Attorney General Douglas Meléndez said his office will reopen the investigation into the truce, while members of the opposition National Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacional - ARENA) reportedly plan to propose a congressional inquiry into the truce, El Diario de Hoy reported. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The recent accusations against the Funes administration and possible investigations are indicative of the level to which El Salvador's security policy has become politicized. 

But while politicians seeking a win against their rivals may have successfully closed the door on any future gang truce, they have yet to put forth their own solutions. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

The end result is one less option in a  environment where deviating from a militarized approach to gangs can be politically costly. Funes' successor, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, is evidence of this. While his former security minister spoke of alternatives to "iron fist" security polices and gang rehabilitation programs, in reality, under Sánchez Cerén El Salvador has continued down the path of militarized policing. 

Unfortunately, this option is clearly not working for El Salvador, as demonstrated by its deteriorating security situation. 

 

Investigations

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

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...