HomeNewsBriefInfiltration of Security Forces Mark of El Salvador Gangs' Capabilities
BRIEF

Infiltration of Security Forces Mark of El Salvador Gangs' Capabilities

BARRIO 18 / 6 MAY 2014 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

Officials in El Salvador have reported gang members are attempting to infiltrate the country's security forces, indicating a growing level of sophistication that potentially supports the idea they have used the ongoing truce to bolster their power.

Twenty-six gang members have been caught trying to infiltrate the armed forces so far this year, according to Security Minister Ricardo Perdomo. The minister suggested gangs sought to enter the police and military in order to steal weapons and uniforms, obtain military intelligence and receive training, reported La Prensa Grafica.

In one recent case, a cadet from El Salvador’s military academy was arrested on May 2 for suspected gang ties and for his alleged involvement in a murder committed in December 2013.

Another suspected gang member and former soldier was arrested on April 21 after he attacked police officers. He had served in El Salvador’s Special Forces for three years, during which time he was allegedly assigned to the president’s security detail.

Gangs have also apparently used information about military and police operations to imitate these organizations while committing crimes. In one recent attack, gang members allegedly dressed as police officers to carry out a triple homicide.

InSight Crime Analysis

Perdomo has warned officials on numerous occasions that El Salvador's two main gangs -- the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 -- are using the ongoing truce to regroup and strengthen. While there is some evidence to suggest Perdomo’s comments are politically motivated, the reported infiltration of security services points to the development of a sophisticated and subversive form of criminality. There have been other indications the MS13, particularly, is evolving.

Gang infiltration in the military and national police is not a new phenomenon in El Salvador, but recent arrests suggest this tactic could be becoming increasingly common. Perdomo also claims El Salvador’s gangs are using military training techniques, especially for handling weapons, and says authorities have identified at least five places where gangs receive training from former military personnel and guerrillas.

Corruption and organized crime ties among El Salvador's police are known to go to the highest levels.

SEE ALSO: Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Although criminal organizations more often rely on bribery and corruption to obtain information from security forces, direct infiltration has also been well documented elsewhere. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has carried out a number of deadly attacks after infiltrating security services.

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 / 8 AUG 2013

Revelations that weapons handed over by Mara gangs do not work, combined with rising murder rates, are calling into question…

EL SALVADOR / 23 AUG 2016

El Salvador Attorney General Douglas Meléndez has ordered the arrest of several prominent suspects accused of judicial corruption, including his…

BARRIO 18 / 9 MAY 2013

With 65 murders registered in just eight days in May, El Salvador may be witnessing a wave of violence that…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.