HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Sees Most Violent Month in 10 Years
BRIEF

El Salvador Sees Most Violent Month in 10 Years

EL SALVADOR / 2 APR 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

El Salvador reported more homicides in March than in any other month over the past 10 years, a high-water mark for violence in an evolving criminal dynamic that is taking on overtones of a low intensity war. 

El Salvador’s National Civil Police (PNC) registered 481 homicides during the month of March, for an average rate of 16 murders per day, according to La Prensa Grafica. The previous record for murders during the last 10 years was in October 2009, when the PNC recorded 437. 

El Salvador’s homicide figures during the past month represent a 52 percent increase from March 2014. At that time, former director of the PNC, Rigoberto Pleites, told Salvadoran media the country’s 2012 gang truce was “technically finished” due to the rising number of homicides.

According to authorities, El Salvador witnessed six massacres last month, including the killing of eight individuals at a truck stop on March 29.

El Salvador also registered 243 missing persons from January 1 through February 22, for an average of 4.5 disappearances per day, reported El Salvador.com

InSight Crime Analysis

Although El Salvador has long struggled with high rates of violence, the conflict has taken on a more confrontational tone between security forces and gangs since the breakdown of the 2012 truce between the MS13 and Barrio 18 street gangs. Last week, for example, an alleged gang member threw a grenade at a police station in the northern department of Cabañas. Nearly 40 police officers were killed in 2014 as a result of this high level of aggression against security forces, and so far 2015 is projected to slightly outpace last year’s number

Salvadoran police have responded in kind, and in January the director of the PNC told his officers to shoot at criminals without fear of repercussions. In February, a police official summed up the current security conditions in El Salvador by saying “we’re at war” with the country’s gangs. These public comments by high-level security officials are likely attempts to show their support for the rank and file police officers, who are the most vulnerable to gang violence and have reported feeling overmatched by well-armed criminal groups. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

However, El Salvador’s record-high murder rate last month suggests matching violence with more violence is not an effective security strategy. In contrast, Ecuador has significantly lowered homicides from 2011 levels in part by professionalizing the country’s police forces and improving relations between security personnel and local communities.

The battle between security forces and gangs in El Salvador appears to be a pattern that will shape violence during 2015.

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

HOMICIDES / 30 NOV 2017

Official statistics in Mexico suggest that kidnapping cases will reach a record high this year, a consequence of the atomization…

BARRIO 18 / 13 OCT 2015

The number of minors prosecuted for gang-related crimes in El Salvador has grown by over 50 percent over the past…

EL SALVADOR / 12 APR 2012

El Salvador is rolling out a new security strategy for lowering gang violence, but the new approach places little emphasis…

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…