HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Sees Brutal Massacre Amid Rising Violence
BRIEF

El Salvador Sees Brutal Massacre Amid Rising Violence

EL SALVADOR / 31 MAR 2015 BY ARRON DAUGHERTY EN

The recent killing of eight people in El Salvador was the kind of massacre that is a trademark of the transnational drug trade, in a country already wracked by violence linked to gangs and police.  

On March 29, eight people were tied up and shot execution-style at a truck stop just outside of the nation's capital San Salvador. Witnesses described at least 10 suspects who arrived in three black SUVs, and proceeded to ransack a nearby house. Authorities believe the suspects were looking for drugs and the massacre was part of a "settling of accounts" by a drug trafficking organization, local media reported.

The suspects reportedly used silenced pistols and retrieved most of their shell casings, indicating a level of professionalism. The letter "Z" was smeared in blood on the walls of the ransacked home, a symbol traditionally associated with infamously violent Mexican criminal group the Zetas. 

During the same weekend as the truck stop massacre, 53 homicides were reported nationwide. The surge in violence follows El Salvador's already worsening security situation, which is generally attributed to local street gangs, including the nation's largest: MS13 and Barrio 18. 

Flooded with corpses, San Salvador's forensic institute was unable to carry out autopsies on all the victims, La Prensa Grafica reported. "We know we're in an emergency, that the situation in El Salvador gets more violent everyday," forensic institute director Jose Miguel Fortin was quoted as saying. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Since the collapse of the gang truce brokered in 2012, El Salvador's security situation has been in a downward spiral, with police describing themselves as at war with street gangs. The possible participation of foreign criminal groups like the Zetas can only make things worse. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

However, the bloody "Z" present at the scene of the crime doesn't necesarily confirm the Zetas' involvement. In Mexico, gangs have been known to use the Zetas' name to intimidate their rivals and inspire fear. Those behind the massacre in El Salvador may be doing the same, or could have invoked the Zetas' name in an attempt to confuse authorities and hide their true identity. 

Additionally, the Mexican group has seen its power decline in recent years. Badly divided and facing down the capture of top leaders like alias "Z42", there is reason to doubt that the Zetas have retained an international reach in El Salvador. 

That being said, El Salvador is still a major transit nation for drugs heading northwards. Whatever group was behind the massacre was obviously intent on sending a message in El Salvador's underworld. If this is a herald for more violence related to the country's transnational drug trade, El Salvador will face even grimmer days ahead. 

Update: Authorities in El Salvador have confirmed the massacre was a "settling of accounts," and that one of those killed was cousin to a member of the Perrones drug transport organization. 

SEE ALSO: Perrones News and Profile

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

GUATEMALA / 17 APR 2012

Recent reports that dangerous Guatemalan street gangs from the MS-13 are teaming with even more dangerous Mexican criminal organization the…

EL SALVADOR / 13 OCT 2011

In the first eight months of this year, 232 members of El Salvador’s National Police were arrested on suspicion of…

INFOGRAPHICS / 11 JAN 2012

The killing of a Texas family on a bus in east Mexico before Christmas remains a mystery; it does not…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…