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

COLOMBIA / 4 NOV 2020

When it comes to combating organized crime and drug trafficking, US President Donald Trump has chosen to strongarm his Latin…

EL SALVADOR / 21 SEP 2021

A scrapped investigation into alleged food aid theft by officials in the administration of El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has…

BARRIO 18 / 1 MAR 2022

Fired prison employees in El Salvador have claimed they witnessed negotiations among government officials and imprisoned gang leaders, adding weight…

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…