HomeNewsBriefMS13 Expanding After Truce Collapse in El Salvador?
BRIEF

MS13 Expanding After Truce Collapse in El Salvador?

EL SALVADOR GANG TRUCE / 2 JUN 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

In the aftermath of the collapse of El Salvador's gang truce, authorities have said the MS13 gang is deepening its hold on illegal migration routes in Mexico, a possible sign of the increasing transnational capabilities indicated by both Salvadoran and US officials.

Cells of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) are attempting to establish control over routes used by migrants in various towns in Chiapas state, on the border with Guatemala. They are targeting undocumented migrants for extortion and kidnapping, among other crimes, reported Proceso.

According to the special prosecutor for Chiapas' migrant unit, Alejandro Vila, there have already been a number of confrontations between these cells and their rivals of Barrio 18, also present in the zone.

Vila said the renewed presence of the MS13 was a result of the reactivation of freight train "The Beast," commonly used by northward bound Central American migrants. The train's operations had been suspended due to hurricane damage.

The report comes shortly after El Salvador's outgoing president declared the truce between the MS13 and Barrio 18 had "failed." Just before the announcement, the tiny Central American nation saw a return to record murder rates, with 30 homicides registered in a single day.

InSight Crime Analysis

El Salvador's gang truce, initially credited with nearly halving the country's homicide rate, was abandoned by the government that helped negotiate it. Homicides have been steadily rising since mid-2013, and truce critics -- particularly Security Minister Ricardo Perdomo -- have claimed the gangs simply used the initiative to grow stronger and increase their involvement in transnational drug trafficking

SEE ALSO: El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

The United States had already given a similar prognosis for the MS13 in late 2012, when it designated the group a transnational criminal organization, citing activities including drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking.

The MS13's structure has been previously described as a loose, decentralized network with highly localized operations. However, there have been signs of a growingly sophisticated and integrated command structure, including interactions between US-based leaders and Salvadoran members.

If the MS13 is increasing its presence in Mexico's southern border region, this could be another indication of increasing transnational reach. While the gang has long been involved in kidnapping and extorting migrants, the current report suggests significant control over a large area, which would demand some coordination. However there it is perhaps easy to overestimate the cohesion of MS13, which is not a centrally directed and coordinated organization, but rather a franchise of affiliated cliques, which can sometimes work together.

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 / 25 SEP 2017

Dany Balmore Romero García faces trial in El Salvador on charges of participating in gang activities and conspiring to commit murder.

BARRIO 18 / 15 MAR 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) will help train a task force in El Salvador dedicated to investigating extortion-related crimes,…

EL SALVADOR / 19 MAY 2022

A report by El Faro has revealed the initial fractures in the negotiated pact between the El Salvadoran government and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…