El Salvador Probes ‘Irregularities’ in Failed Gang Truce

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Investigators are close to finishing their probe into whether the negotiators of the country’s failed gang truce broke any laws, according to El Salvador’s attorney general. However, taking down the people behind the truce will not solve the new government’s security dilemma.

Attorney General Luis Martinez told El Mundo that his office was nearly finished “evaluating” the actions of various people who had participated in what he called a “false gang pact.” In a separate meeting with members of Congress, Martinez said his office would “reveal the truth” behind the pact and hinted that certain key actors — including truce negotiator Raul Mijango, a former guerrilla leader — could soon be summoned to testify in court, reported El Diario de Hoy

The probe has reportedly revealed that as part of the truce, criminal gangs handed over hundreds of guns that didn’t actually belong to them. Gang members testified that they bought some of these guns second-hand for $100 to use in the handover, reported La Prensa Grafica. Other weapons were reportedly stolen. The witnesses also allegedly said the gangs bought weapons from the armed forces while the truce was still active. 

As the Attorney General’s Office continues its probe, concerns over rising gang violence has prompted the government to create a special unit to investigate police deaths — many of which are supposedly due to clashes with gangs — and to allow police to carry guns on their days off. In another move, conservative party the ARENA proposed a bill that would give the armed forces control over security in areas with a strong gang presence. 

InSight Crime Analysis

With homicides back to pre-truce levels; rising gang-police violence; and the new government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren refusing to publicly support any negotiations with gangs, El Salvador’s gang truce has basically been dead for months now. Now all that remains is the fallout, and as Martinez’s comments suggest, it is looking increasingly likely that several prominent figures involved in the process will be caught up in this.

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

As InSight Crime has noted, the Sanchez Ceren government is being forced to walk a fine line. The spiraling violence means they cannot simply ignore the problem, but for political reasons, nor can they propose anything that makes it look as though the government is willing to get too close to the gangs again. Thus far, they have created a special security council — which includes Attorney General Luis Martinez as a member — that is supposed to propose solutions to the violence. Martinez has said he will “not allow” a new truce, but the most obvious alternative — a return to the unsuccessful hardline “mano dura” (iron first) policies that preceded the truce — looks just as unappealing. 

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