Investigation and Analysis of Organized Crime
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Extortion Explainer 2: From a “Cora” to the Rent

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and 18th Street Gang’s (Barrio 18) primary criminal economy is extortion, or what they call rent. In the early 1990s, when the gangs...
cellphone in hand picture
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Extortion Explainer 3: The Modus Operandi

A cheap phone and a few dollars’ worth of prepaid credit serve as the rudimentary tools of extortionists in Northern Triangle countries. Here are some of the most...
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The Collaborators in Guatemala: Chained to the MS13

The number of imprisoned women in Guatemala has quadrupled in the past five years, influenced by an increase in police mega-operations yielding more...
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The Collaborators in Honduras: The Girls Who Want to be Mortal

At 15, you are a woman, a gang member for the Barrio 18, in a marginal barrio of Honduras. You have kids, you are jailed, police abuse you and you question how to...
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New El Salvador President Will Face Old El Salvador Problem

A spike in police slayings have El Salvador's officers on edge as some called on social media for extrajudicial executions of suspected members of the street gangs,...
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The Collaborators in El Salvador: The Witness’s Girlfriend Goes Free

The use of protected witnesses by El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office increased by 15 times in the last 11 years. The case of a young woman accused by her...
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How Would El Salvador’s Presidential Candidates Tackle Organized Crime?

The citizens of El Salvador are set to elect a new president on February 3 amid an uptick in deadly violence in January, which has thrust the country’s security...
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Growing Extortion Spurs Wave of Deadly Bus Attacks in Guatemala

Though violence has decreased in Guatemala, recent deadly attacks against buses show that public transport remains under siege by gangs, which have increased their...
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Political Mafias Helped Empower Gangs, says El Salvador Security Expert

The homicide rate in El Salvador has spiked after authorities in the Central American nation saw a substantial reduction in homicides in 2018, raising important...
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Who Taught the MS13 Politics?

The first MS13 and Barrio 18 gang members to arrive in El Salvador were deported from the United States in the late 1980s. Some even fought in the civil war, which...
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Gang Prevention in Central America: A Lost Battle Against State Indifference?

With migrants fleeing murder and violence in caravans and the evident flop of repressive policies in the Northern Triangle, gang prevention and rehabilitation...
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For Informant, a Treacherous Road to Justice in El Salvador

Even under the best of circumstances, there are few incentives to become a cooperating witness in an extortion case in El Salvador. And, as one witness has found...