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

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 / 6 JUN 2014

El Salvador's principal gangs -- among them the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 -- have called on the new administration…

CHEPE DIABLO / 25 APR 2014

El Salvador's attorney general is taking the Al Capone route to nailing the Texis Cartel by charging the drug trafficking…

EL SALVADOR / 29 APR 2016

Authorities in El Salvador captured two current mayors and over a dozen other suspects for awarding government contracts in exchange…

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…