The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
Two wildly divergent views of what is happening with the truce between El Salvador's two foremost gangs converge in one important way: they both paint a bleak picture for the near future of the fragile agreement and of the country.
Political scientist Juan Carlos Garzon takes a closer look at the relationship between El Salvador's maras and transnational drug trafficking, finding that these ties are often exaggerated and serve to obscure arguably more significant problems, such as the country's role as a money laundering hotspot.
Police say a now dismantled cell of the MS13 in Spain was led by Salvadorans sent to set up a local branch of the notorious street gang, which if true would be confirmation the El Salvador mara is looking to establish European operations connected to their Latin American ones.
Anonymous intelligence sources say El Salvador's street gangs held military training sessions for their most loyal and lethal members and are getting involved in international drug trafficking, a provocative allegation that comes amidst a volatile political transition and a highly contentious gang truce.
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.
A group of Guatemala bus extortionists recently sentenced to prison were apparently paying a quota to street gangs, suggesting the Guatemalan Maras have adopted a territorial model associated with Mexico's Zetas.
El Salvador's overall 2013 homicide rate fell slightly in comparison to 2012, but the steady rise of recent months has continued in 2014, undermining the gains made as a result of the truce between the country's main gangs.
An easing of tension among the largest Mexican criminal groups has been counteracted by the growing influx of Central America's most notorious gangs, a development that, if continued, could challenge efforts to improve Mexican security for years to come.
Homicide levels, and more recently, clandestine mass graves, are driving the debate about the success or failure of the gang truce in El Salvador, but they are also obscuring some important truths about why the truce is steadily eroding and why its end has become almost inevitable.
Police in El Salvador say the country's gangs are "mutating" and becoming more deeply involved in drug trafficking, a development that adds to fears the gangs have used the truce between them to increase their strength and reach.