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

BARRIO 18 / 23 JAN 2015

Authorities in El Salvador seized 500 fake police uniforms that may have been intended for use as disguises for gang…

EL SALVADOR / 7 JAN 2014

An intelligence investigation has revealed the pricing structure for goods within El Salvador's jails, which are now not only…

EL SALVADOR / 1 FEB 2017

The administration of El Salvador President Salvador Sánchez Cerén insists that it will not negotiate with the MS13 gang, which…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…

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