HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Mass Graves Put Pressure on Gang Truce
BRIEF

El Salvador Mass Graves Put Pressure on Gang Truce

BARRIO 18 / 10 DEC 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

Authorities in El Salvador have recovered 19 bodies from secret graves, adding weight to fears that a drop in murders following the country’s gang truce was partly due to criminals hiding the bodies of victims more carefully.

The remains were found buried on a property near the town of Colon, on the outskirts of capital city San Salvador, reported La Prensa Grafica. Investigations have indicated there may be at least another 25 bodies in more graves in the same area.

According to La Prensa Grafica, the graves have been attributed to the Barrio 18 gang, one of El Salvador’s two principal street gangs, which entered a truce with rival Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) in March 2012.

Other bodies were exhumed near Colon in May, including the remains of a police officer. According to statistics from the Institute of Legal Medicine, 97 bodies were recovered from secret graves between August 2012 and August 2013 — 15 of them in Colon.

InSight Crime Analysis

There was great optimism for the truce following a dramatic drop in El Salvador’s murder rate during the year after the two gangs entered their pact. However an apparent concurrent rise in disappearances led critics to argue murders had not actually gone down as dramatically as it appeared; they were just being better hidden. According to police statistics released earlier this year there was a significant rise in both disappearances and clandestine grave discoveries after the start of the truce.

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

Notwithstanding that figures on disappearances in El Salvador are problematic, the digging up of dozens of bodies from shallow graves indicates that gang violence has continued apace. That has been compounded by a steadily rising murder rate during the truce’s second year — November was the most violent month of 2013 and there were 54 murders during the first week of December.

Add to that a reported rise in extortion, assassinations in supposed “peace zones,” a lack of federal funding for violence prevention schemes and political infighting over the truce’s value, and it becomes very hard to see how this initiative can survive.

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.

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

BARRIO 18 / 17 MAR 2015

El Salvador's recent spike in homicides may be related to the recent transfer of gang leaders to a high-security prison,…

CARIBBEAN / 8 JAN 2016

Jamaica's homicide rate reached an alarming five-year high in 2015, with the uptick believed to have been driven…

EL SALVADOR / 27 APR 2011

A television cameraman was shot to death on a bus as he rode to work in El Salvador,…

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…