HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Gang Reportedly Got Military Training
BRIEF

El Salvador Gang Reportedly Got Military Training

BARRIO 18 / 9 SEP 2016 BY LUIS FERNANDO ALONSO EN

New testimony indicates that the Barrio 18 gang's Revolutionaries faction in El Salvador paid former soldiers and guerrillas to provide gang members with firearms and martial arts training in 2014, reviving an issue that has been the subject of debate for several years.

During criminal proceedings related to a 2014 attack on police officers in Quezaltepeque, testimony alluded to gang "training camps", reported El Mundo. The testimony cited the existence of six training centers spread across the departments of San Salvador, Chalatenango, La Paz, La Libertad and Sonsonate. The trainers were allegedly paid $200 per week.

Several of these training camps were located on remote hilltops. The first camp, near San Andres de Apopa, was allegedly the site where gang members were trained two times a week in marksmanship with M-16, AK-47 and Galil assault rifles. Another camp was apparently located on a hill in the department of La Paz. On the mountain of Guazapa, just north of the capital, another camp was reportedly run by José Milton Lopez Saavedra and Hector Hernandez Rivera, who are both currently facing criminal charges.

Two other hilltop camps were established in La Libertad and Zacatecoluca. One witness says that he was taken along with other gang members to the hilltop in Zacatecoluca to receive firearms training.

The final camp was actually located within Izalco prison in Sonsonate, where gang members were trained in martial arts such as kickboxing and in self-defense.

InSight Crime Analysis

This is not the first time that gangs in El Salvador have been linked with increased military prowess and military style training sessions. Reports surfaced in 2014 with similar claims, although it was then MS-13, rather than a faction of Barrio-18, that was preparing for combat.

The testimony given recently in the court proceedings comes from a gang member, and has not otherwise been corroborated. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

Should the allegations prove true, it would show that gangs used the time during and immediately following the truce in El Salvador to build up their strength. It is likely that the gangs have the resources to hire firearm instructors, and there are certainly plenty of qualified teachers given the 12-year civil war that ended in 1992. However testimony about "training camps" does not necessarily mean the Barrio 18 gang members are becoming sophisticated commandos.

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 / 28 APR 2022

Gang members' romantic partners are often also their victims, subordinate to the whims of their companions. MS13 members have been…

CHEPE DIABLO / 25 MAY 2021

A business magnate who is an alleged leader of El Salvador’s Texis Cartel has escaped justice once again, after a…

EL SALVADOR / 3 MAY 2021

The decision by legislators aligned with El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele to oust the country’s top prosecutor may spell the…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…