Guatemalan authorities have captured the leader of a Mara Salvatrucha cell, amidst reports that the gang has grown increasingly sophisticated and centrally organized.
Marco Antonio Sian Chavez, alias "El Bufon," was arrested on April 3 in the port of Iztapa, in Escuintla province, in southern Guatemala, reported Prensa Libra. Although initial reports indicated that El Bufon was the "alleged maximum leader" of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) the Attorney General's Office later told press that El Bufon was merely the leader of a cell known as the "Batos Locos."
According to the Attorney General's Office, the Batos Locos were involved in drug dealing and extortion of bus drivers, taxi drivers, and small businesses. El Bufon is accused of at least four homicides, including the murders of three gang members he reportedly suspected of serving as informants for the authorities.
InSight Crime Analysis
Authorities accross the region have voiced concerns MS-13, along with rival gang Barrio 18, has recently begun transforming from a loosely organized collection of street gangs into an increasingly sophisticated organization under a more centralized leadership. Although there are indications that the group may be moving into transnational criminal activity such as human smuggling, drug trafficking, and money laundering, their main revenue source remains the kind of street-level extortion and drug dealing exhibited by El Bufon's cell.
Earlier this week, an investigation by the Anti-Extortion Unit of Guatemala’s Public Ministry named the nine leaders of the gang's central council, eight of whom are currently imprisoned in El Boqueron prison in Santa Rosa.