HomeNewsBriefMilitary to Withdraw from El Salvador ‘Peace Zones’
BRIEF

Military to Withdraw from El Salvador ‘Peace Zones’

BARRIO 18 / 4 FEB 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

El Salvador’s Defense Minister confirmed that the military will withdraw from the areas designated “peace zones,” where Mara gangs have pledged to end all criminal activity. 

Defense Minister Atilio Benitez told La Prensa Grafica that the military will withdraw from the peace zones, as crime is expected to drop significantly in these areas, and the troops needed to focus their attention on regions with higher crime rates. 

Four municipalities have been inaugurated as crime-free sanctuaries so far, and another ten are expected to follow. The Defense Minister said that as a first step, the military would stop conducting joint patrols with police in the current peace zones, which include Sonsonate, Quezaltepeque, Ilopango and Santa Tecla.

The military’s withdrawal is not a concession granted to gangs as part of the truce, the minister added. When the peace zones were first announced, there were some reports that said police would promise to cease night-time patrols in these areas, although the government has not yet confirmed that this is the case. 

Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 have committed to handing over weapons and stopping all homicides, kidnapping, and extortion in these areas, as part of the second phase of El Salvador’s national gang truce

InSight Crime Analysis

Benitez’s announcement comes just as one of the designated municipalities, Ilopango, registered its first homicide since the peace zone was launched on January 23. According to La Prensa Grafica, the murder victim was a former gang member. The incident heralds some of the challenges that lie ahead if crime rates do not significantly improve in the designated peace zones. It is also clear that the security forces will have to redefine their approach in the designated municipalities, given the apparent scaling back of military and police operations in these areas.

While El Salvador’s nation-wide gang truce has brought a dramatic improvement in crime rates since it was first announced in March 2012, incidents involving spats between alleged gang members have continued. In one such confrontation, four were killed and another three injured in a reported firefight between rival gangs in San Miguel municipality over the weekend, reports EFE. So far it seems as though these incidents have not undermined the government’s support for the gang truce, although there is a risk that if gang killings continue in the peace zones, there could be a loss of goodwill. 

Compartir icon icon icon

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

HONDURAS / 5 JAN 2016

In April 2015, Honduran police began investigating reports that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) had ordered a ban on…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 28 NOV 2016

More than four guns were stolen every day in El Salvador over the last six years, according to a new…

BARRIO 18 / 1 JUN 2018

In our May 31 Facebook Live session, InSight Crime Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos and Managing Editor Josefina Salomón analyzed…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…