HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Gangs Involved in Arms Trafficking Network
BRIEF

El Salvador Gangs Involved in Arms Trafficking Network

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 19 JUN 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY AND ELYSSA PACHICO EN

El Salvador's street gangs were reportedly involved in a criminal network that trafficked weapons into the country, a worrying sign of increased sophistication on the gangs' part.

Authorities in El Salvador detained 90 people accused of participating in a criminal network that sold illegal weapons sourced from Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Among those arrested were at least 21 alleged members of street gang the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), ElSalvador.com reported

A key coordinator of the network was an imprisoned MS13 leader, Medardo Arana Castro, alias "Pilot," reported La Prensa Grafica. Other important players include two Nicaraguan brothers, Aaron Noel and Darwin Jose Ponce Alvarado, who are accused of smuggling the weapons from other Central American countries into El Salvador. Additionally, arms traffickers based within El Salvador were involved in buying, storing, and selling the weapons, along with 16 factions or "clicas" of the MS13, according to La Prensa Grafica. 

The probe into the arms trafficking ring also allowed investigators to collect evidence related to other crimes, including several extortion and homicide cases. Two murders involved security guards who likely interfered in the MS13's extortion activities, the report said.

Within El Salvador, the gun traffickers charged as much as $600 for pistols, $1,200 for assault rifles and $600 for grenades, La Prensa Grafica reported. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Weapons are obviously a vital part to the MS13's modus operandi, but there are few legal cases that shed light on how, exactly, the gangs source their weapons. That being said, El Salvador has a long-running problem of arms disappearing from official military stockpiles, alongside reports that street gangs are bearing military-grade weaponry

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

If several MS13 members were indeed in touch with arms traffickers who moved weapons from other Northern Triangle countries into El Salvador, that is arguably a more sophisticated way of obtaining weapons than buying off local, corrupt security officials. Still, this appears to be a case in which the MS13 were primarily involved in buying and distributing guns within El Salvador, rather than coordinating the transnational sale of weapons themselves. 

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

EL SALVADOR / 14 JUL 2022

A turnaround in El Salvador’s position on extraditing gang members has come amid US pressure and rumblings in the criminal…

EL SALVADOR / 3 MAY 2021

The decision by legislators aligned with El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele to oust the country’s top prosecutor may spell the…

EL SALVADOR / 23 FEB 2021

A US federal appeals court has delayed the deportation of a former MS13 member to El Salvador, ruling that his…

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…