HomeNewsBriefNew El Salvador Gang Strategy Targets Public Officials: Report
BRIEF

New El Salvador Gang Strategy Targets Public Officials: Report

BARRIO 18 / 8 NOV 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

El Salvador’s three main gangs have reportedly joined forces to carry out strategic assassinations against public officials, which if true would mark a troubling development in the gangs’ conflict with the state.

The leaders of the three main gangs in El Salvador reportedly met in October and agreed to put their efforts toward targeting high-profile public officials in a “stepped-up war against the system,” according to police intelligence obtained by La Prensa Gráfica. Although the report did not specify the identities of the leaders in question, the country’s three main groups are considered to be the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and two factions of Barrio 18: Sureños and Revolucionarios.

SEE ALSO:  MS13 News and Profile

The leaders reportedly decided that during the last months of 2016 they would focus on committing attacks and assassinations that would have a “greater social impact,” La Prensa Gráfica reported. This apparently includes police, military, prison officials, mayors, congressmen, prosecutors and judges.

The move is reportedly in response to the government’s crackdown on gangs, which includes the implementation of so-called “extraordinary measures” which restrict incarcerated gang members’ interaction with the outside world. 

Police investigations revealed that gang members may already be moving to increase targeted attacks in the departments of San Salvador, Cuscatlán and Cabañas, where they have been tracking police and military agents during their days off, La Prensa Gráfica reported.

Rural training areas have also been detected in these departments, where at least 30 gang members have gathered to learn military tactics such as how to use assault rifles and hand grenades, the report adds. The instructors are reportedly former military officials.

InSight Crime Analysis

These reported developments, if true, are further indication that the gangs are increasing their coordination in order to carry out attacks against state agents. News of the gangs’ joint “war against the system” comes only weeks after El Diario de Hoy reported that MS13 leaders planned on setting up a 500-man elite unit. The last phase of that plan, which was never realized, reportedly involved deploying the elite unit to attack public and private institutions in a high-intensity armed conflict.

As with the recent report, the plan to fund an elite unit was apparently in response to the government’s repressive policies targeting the gangs. Since President Salvador Sánchez Céren took office in 2014, the Salvadoran government has bolstered the armed fight against gangs and has also used judicial tools at its disposal, such as classifying the gangs as terrorist organizations.

There is no doubt that police officers are already a frequent target of El Salvador’s gangs. Whether all three gangs would be capable of coordinating a campaign against the state is less certain. But it’s not too hard to imagine, given the gangs’ seeming ability to bring down the national murder rate on multiple occasions

Compartir icon icon icon

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

BARRIO 18 / 21 JAN 2015

In a stark statement illustrating the gravity of the current situation in El Salvador, the director of the country's civilian…

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…

BARRIO 18 / 28 AUG 2014

Young people in Nicaragua who migrate to Honduras and El Salvador for work have been influenced by powerful street gangs…

About InSight Crime

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. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…