HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador President: US ‘Overestimating’ MS-13
BRIEF

El Salvador President: US 'Overestimating' MS-13

EL SALVADOR / 14 OCT 2012 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

El Salvador's President, Mauricio Funes, contradicted the United States government's recent designation of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization, casting doubt on the sophistication of the gang's finance networks. 

In his October 14th radio show, President Funes voiced skepticism of the decision to add the MS-13 to the US Treasury's list of transnational criminal organizations. While he did not dispute the fact that the gang is a criminal threat, he questioned whether it was appropritate to place it on the same level as other, more established international crime syndicates.

"The problem has been overstated, not by considering [Mara Salvatrucha] a criminal organization, but in the sense of overestimating the economic risk or financial risk resulting from the criminal actions of the MS, and putting it on a par with other transnational criminal organizations like the Zetas or the Camorra in Italy," President Funes said.

InSight Crime Analysis

As InSight Crime has pointed out, the new designation of the gang may not have much of an impact on the MS-13. While it may make it more difficult for MS-13 members in the US to send back illicit profits to gang members in El Salvador, the gang is not believed to have any major assets in the US. Still, the designation has raised questions about the Mara's international structure, which is demonstrating signs of increasing sophistication.

The fact that the US made the decision to reclassify the gang as a transnational threat in the midst of a government-facilitated truce between the MS-13 and its rivals in Barrio 18 may be no coincidence. It effectively rattles the Mara's attempts to improve its image and gain a measure of political standing.

But by hyping up the threat of the gang, the US also makes it more difficult for the Salvadoran government to justify its involvement in the gang truce. Offering incentives for a local street gang to renounce the use of violence is one thing, but negotiating with a US-designated transational criminal organization is very different. As such, Funes downplaying the designation could be seen as an attempt at damage control. 

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 / 31 OCT 2016

Former El Salvador President Elías Antonio Saca and several members of his administration have been arrested on corruption-related charges, another indication…

EL SALVADOR / 3 SEP 2018

The recent granting of political asylum in Nicaragua to a fugitive from Guatemala is the latest sign that the Central…

BARRIO 18 / 2 FEB 2012

El Salvador’s government says it is taking a radical stance on crime, using the military to police the country's most…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.