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

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

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Investigating organized crime is an expensive and often risky enterprise. Reaching primary sources and getting the real story involve extensive fieldwork. Please donate. Every dollar supports our mission.

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