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…

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 6 NOV 2014

Trial testimony from the self-described right-hand man of alleged El Salvador drug trafficker "Repollo" has provided a snapshot of the…

EL SALVADOR / 21 SEP 2016

With the United States increasingly clamping down on its southern border and high numbers of Central American refugees continuing to…

BARRIO 18 / 29 OCT 2014

Investigators are close to finishing their probe into whether the negotiators of the country's failed gang truce broke any laws,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

icon #SupportFreePress
image

Support Our Work

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.

DONATE NOW image