HomeNewsAnalysisEl Salvador Implements New Gang Law
ANALYSIS

El Salvador Implements New Gang Law

EL SALVADOR / 1 NOV 2010 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

El Salvador's hard-line law against gang activity officially took effect on Sunday, although the Attorney General's Office told La Prensa Grafica the legislation is not yet being enforced due to technicalities.

The new law doubles the maximum prison sentence for minors, declares gang membership illegal, and gives authorities permission to freeze bank accounts and seize the assets of gang members. So far the strongest reaction against the law was the three-day assault against bus companies that temporarily halted most transport across the country. New reports show that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, usually rivals, agreed to collaborate in enforcing the bus strike, which resulted in the destruction of three buses and the arrests of 80 people, according to IPS.

The maras have rallied against the new gang-enforcement law, but have also used it as an opportunity to attack previous legislation that increased security measures in prisons. So far there is no sign the government is interested in listening, although the director of El Salvador's penal system commented to Prensa Grafica they may reconsider some of these statutes, and possibly allow rival gang members to house together in the same penitentiary. The government has tried to keep MS-13 and Barrio 18 separate since massive prison riots rocked the country in 2003.

Other than the expected backlash from the Maras, one of the more preoccupying effects of the law may be migration. The Maras have already spilled over into Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, and authorities in all of these countries have expressed concerns that El Salvador's tougher legislation will cause another mass exodus. As IPS reports, these neighboring countries are all grappling with rising homicide rates and frequent, gang-related attacks on bus companies. Honduras already has a anti-gang membership law, in effect since 2003, and Guatemalan Congress is also considering passing similar legislation. It is too early to say whether El Salvador's new bill will cause a "balloon" effect, but it is likely that concern over border security will grow significantly in the region.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BELIZE / 2 JUN 2022

Since El Salvador's government began a campaign of mass arrests two months ago in a gang crackdown, fewer than 60…

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 / 1 JUL 2021

Multiple sources from the United States and El Salvador say the recent decision to temporarily halt the extradition of several…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…