HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador will 'Target and Disband' Criminal Structures: Vice President
BRIEF

El Salvador will 'Target and Disband' Criminal Structures: Vice President

EL SALVADOR / 4 APR 2016 BY ELISE DITTA EN

To halt criminal violence in the country, El Salvador's vice president has outlined additional government measures that echo repressive strategies of the past, but which also include several new approaches.

In an interview with the Salvadoran press, Vice President Óscar Ortiz detailed several initiatives President Salvador Sánchez Cerén will propose to Congress in an attempt to decrease sky-rocketing violence rates.

Ortiz told El Mundo the goal of the new measures was to "drastically reduce the operating capacity of criminal structures."

The new strategies include a Rapid Response Force (Fuerza de Reacción Rápida) of 600 soldiers and 400 police officers, which will be tasked with "targeting and disbanding any [criminal] structure" in the country. Ortiz said officials also hope to form a team of prosecutors that will focus specifically on cases the new response unit uncovers.

Plans are also underway to increase local participation in neighborhood security by supporting the creation of citizen support committees in communities. These will operate under the coordination of the National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil).

Additionally, the presidency plans to present a new initiative to strengthen asset seizure laws in order to "attack the financial flows of criminal structures," said Ortiz.

The proposals follow plans, approved by Congress on April 1, to tighten prison restrictions in order to impede the ability of inmates to coordinate criminal activities outside prison walls.

Following up on these measures, Ortiz noted the government will soon begin construction on temporary centers where 10,000 low-risk inmates will live and work. Ortiz said gang members are unlikely to be eligible for the program, at least in its initial phase.

InSight Crime Analysis

Ortiz's comments seem to indicate the Salvadoran government is moving closer to a coordinated security strategy with more defined measures, which contain both new aspects and reflections of past policies.

For instance, the Rapid Response Force echoes "mano dura" (iron fist) policies of repression the Salvadoran government has used before. Such policies, however, have been shown to be unsuccessful at reducing crime. Although Ortiz claims the unit will be part of a sustained effort involving the Attorney General's office to tackle and prosecute criminal structures, it remains unclear how exactly this is to be done.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

Attacking the assets of criminal groups, however, is a newer strategy for Salvadoran officials. While such an approach has shown some success in neighboring Honduras, questions again remain as to how Salvadoran police will coordinate with the Attorney General to conduct asset seizure operations.

Another unknown is how El Salvador's powerful street gangs will respond to the government's new security initiatives.

Last week, Salvadoran gangs declared a halt to homicides, allegedly to demonstrate that the government's threatened "extraordinary measures" were not necessary. In an interview with the Washington Post, a Barrio 18 representative responded to the newly rolled out policies, saying, "The governments have invented these kinds of measures before, and what I have to say about it is this: Repression doesn't reduce violence, it just brings more repression."

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

JALISCO CARTEL / 17 DEC 2021

The United States and Mexico have officially entered a new phase of their partnership to tackle transnational organized crime groups…

DISPLACEMENT / 2 JUN 2021

The number of displaced people within Mexico has increased for the first time in three years, indicating that the country's…

EL SALVADOR / 18 MAY 2021

Though far from revelatory, a new list of officials the United States government suspects of corruption and drug trafficking in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…