The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas
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.
A recorded phone call between MS13 members imprisoned in El Salvador and leaders in the United States indicates an increasingly sophisticated command structure, and has highlighted the operational links between the gang's branches in the two countries.
Police in Italy have dismantled a gang identifying itself as part of the MS13, in a sign Central American gangs may be expanding their influence, and possibly their presence, in Europe.
A study of gender roles in Central America's "maras" sheds light on the dual role of women, who are simultaneously violently exploited and heavily relied on by male gang members.
El Salvador gangs are using a poorly regulated money transfer system provided by one of the region's major cellular phone networks to facilitate extortion, illustrating the continued bilking of the underclass amidst a gang truce that was supposed to lead to less crime.