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
  • 10
Prev Next

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...