The MS13

EL SALVADOR / 16 FEB 2018

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) is the hemisphere’s largest, most formidable and increasingly its most sophisticated street gang. This ongoing investigative series tackles its evolution from various perspectives.

About this Project

These reports are the result of field work done for a multi-year research initiative evaluating the transnational criminal capacity of the MS13 in the US and El Salvador by InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies, with funding from the National Institute of Justice.

Chapter 1

Why Trump is Wrong to Blame Migration for MS13 Expansion, Violence

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 31 JAN 2018

President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union Address to blame the expansion and violence of the MS13 gang in the US on the "deadly loopholes" in the…

Chapter 2

MS13 and International Drug Trafficking: Gang Project vs. Entrepreneurism

EL SALVADOR / 12 FEB 2018

On June 23, 2015, Jaime Alexander Monge and Larry Jesus Navarete were talking on the phone. Monge was in Arkansas. Navarete was in the California state penitentiary system. The two…

Chapter 3

MS13 Violence: Method or Madness?

EL SALVADOR / 13 FEB 2018

There is a telling section in the indictment of alleged MS13 members filed by El Salvador's Attorney General’s Office as part of Operation Jaque. It comes on page 223 of…

Chapter 4

MS13: Hierarchy vs. Federation

EL SALVADOR / 14 FEB 2018

On December 13, 2015, MS13 gang leader Edwin Mancía Flores, alias “Shugar,” made a phone call from a prison in El Salvador. On the other end of the line was…

Chapter 5

MS13 Gang Truce: Social vs. Criminal Capital

EL SALVADOR / 15 FEB 2018

Dany Balmore Romero García was sitting in class at a vocational college in El Salvador when he got a message from a friend. On the news, they were saying the…

Chapter 6

MS13 in the Americas: Major Findings

EL SALVADOR / 16 FEB 2018

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) is one of the world’s largest and arguably most violent street gangs. After relatively humble beginnings in Los Angeles in the 1980s, it has spread to…

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About InSight Crime

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On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

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Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

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In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

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