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El Salvador

El Salvador is a relatively small but growing player in the drug trafficking business. It serves as a drug receiving and storage point along the Pacific Coast, and a bridge via the Pan-American Highway, the Fonseca Gulf and roads from Honduras that cut through relatively unpopulated areas

Latest News

True Cost of El Salvador’s War on Gangs Still Being Tallied

NEWS / 6 DEC 2022

The escalation of El Salvador's gang crackdown in the city of Soyapango has raised severe questions as to whether gang members are really still being rooted out.

Honduras' State of Exception May Set Worrying Precedent

NEWS / 29 NOV 2022

Honduras declared a state of exception as extortion cases rise, suspending constitutional rights in cities and deploying thousands of troops.

Why Mega-Prisons Holding Tens of Thousands Won't Make a Difference

NEWS / 25 NOV 2022

Failing prison systems and entrenched corruption mean mega-prisons holding tens of thousands won't solve insecurity in Latin America.

El Salvador Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

Crime and violence in El Salvador are fueled by street gangs – particularly the infamous Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and to a lesser extent two factions of the Barrio 18. The gangs control territory through cliques, engaging in low-level crimes like extortion, kidnapping and drug sales. Drug trafficking groups – the Perrones and the Texis Cartel – also have operations in the country. But these groups have been on the decline after the arrests of key figures, leaving a door open for the country’s dominant gang – the MS13 – to enter the trafficking market.

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Personalities

José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias 'Chepe Diablo'

CHEPE DIABLO / MAY 26, 2021

José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," does not fit the normal profile of a criminal leader. As the former president of the first division of Salvadoran soccer and the…

Moris Alexander Bercián Manchón, alias 'El Barney'

EL SALVADOR / MARCH 9, 2020

Moris Alexander Bercián Manchón, alias "El Barney," is one of six MS13 members in El Salvador sanctioned by the United States for participation in illicit transnational actvities including drug trafficking.

Reynerio Flores Lazo

EL SALVADOR PERSONALITIES / 2017-03-09 22:27:26

While Reynerio Flores is serving an 80-year jail term, he remains one of the most notorious and important leaders of Perrones, one of the most significant cocaine smuggling gangs in…

José Natividad Luna Pereira, alias ‘Chepe Luna’

CHEPE LUNA / 2020-03-10 22:29:20

Once the most powerful boss of the Perrones "transportista" syndicate, Jose Natividad Luna Pereira, alias "Chepe Luna," was murdered in Honduras in June 2014. Before his death, Luna built a…

News

BRAZIL / 23 NOV 2022

A lack of regulation surrounding how crypto-currencies are used by organized crime has left Latin America dangerously exposed.

EL SALVADOR / 31 OCT 2022

Rodolfo Delgado, El Salvador's Attorney General, may have worrying connections to Jorge Manuel Vega Knight, an alleged money launderer and MS13 collaborator…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 12 OCT 2022

US and Guatemalan authorities will tell you Moises Humberto Rivera Luna, alias "Viejo Santos," is a top member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13). But is he?…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 6 OCT 2022

El Salvador will hold off on extraditing a top MS13 gang leader to the United States to face terrorism charges.

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 4 OCT 2022

Corruption, no supervision, and poor legislation have led to Latin American military weapons ending up in criminal hands.

EL SALVADOR / 3 OCT 2022

Extortion in the Northern Triangle is predominantly done from prisons, yet prison populations have been on the rise.

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