BRIEF

El Salvador Gang Truce Shaken by ‘Peace Zone’ Murders

EL SALVADOR / 9 SEP 2013 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

Four gang members have been assassinated in El Salvador’s first “peace zone,” areas where all gang activity is supposed to have ceased under the terms of a nationwide truce, leading to claims that outside interests could be trying to derail the process.

The murders occurred on Friday, when four members of the Barrio 18 gang were shot in the municipality of Ilopango, which in January became the country’s inaugural non-violence zone. The zones are part of the second phase of a negotiated truce between Barrio 18 and rivals Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), which began in March 2012. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

The four gang members were killed as gang leaders from these two maras met nearby, reported El FaroInitial reports suggested the killings were the result of fighting between the two gangs.

However, the gangs said neither group carried out the murders, and suggested outsiders are trying to sabotage the peace process, El Faro reported. Witnesses said the killers abandoned their car and entered another waiting vehicle, pointing to a professionally-planned job.

Ilopango mayor Salvador Ruano echoed the gangs’ claim, suggesting that the killings were carried out by a death squad intent on wrecking the truce, possibly linked to the security forces. El Salvador’s police rejected these claims.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time killings have cast a shadow over the peace zones or the truce. A spate of homicides occurred in Ilopango barely a month into the initiative. However, the gangs have maintained their commitment to the agreement, which nearly halved countrywide homicides after being introduced last year.

While those initial gains have since come under scrutiny following a rise in extortions in the truce’s first year and then a rise in year-on-year homicides in May and June 2013, President Mauricio Funes has affirmed his support for the process on numerous occasions and has called for the international community to embrace the process.

Still, it is not clear if his administration is behind him, and, in a confusing display of mixed signals, Funes has also insisted the government is not actually participating in the truce. Even worse, Security Minister Ricardo Perdomo has criticized the truce, saying the gangs have used it to strengthen their ties to international drug trafficking organizations. 

What’s more, the truce is entering the cruelest phase: election season. The truce promises to be a major point of contention in next year’s presidential elections, and candidates may seek to score easy points by bashing the unpopular gang agreement.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador’s Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

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.

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 4 APR 2013

El Faro tells the story of Ilopango's first month as a "violence-free" municipality, after it was named as the first "peace…

DISPLACEMENT / 25 JUN 2015

The number of Central American child migrants detained in Mexico increased by nearly 50 percent during the first part of…

EL SALVADOR / 23 JUN 2017

Police and army officials were among those arrested in El Salvador's biggest opperation against anti-gang death squads in recent memory,…

Institutional Content

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …