HomeNewsBriefMurderous Day A Reality Check for El Salvador Government
BRIEF

Murderous Day A Reality Check for El Salvador Government

BARRIO 18 / 17 MAR 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

The killing of dozens in El Salvador in a single day, despite government claims that a hardline policy against violent gangs is working, shows these criminal groups maintain their lethal power, and may signal a resurgence of spiking violence in the country.

El Salvador's head of National Police Howard Cotto announced during a press conference on March 16 that 30 individuals were killed during the previous day, reported La Prensa. According to Cotto, at least 17 of the deaths were directly linked to the country's powerful gangs.

Hours before the announcement, authorities had praised the more than 62 percent decrease in homicides between January 1st and March 14th 2017 and the same period in 2016. El Salvador witnessed 651 murders during those dates this year, a significant drop from last year's 1,722.

SEE ALSO: MS13 News and profiles

Among the lethal incidents on March 16 were the deaths of six individuals in the capital city's historic centre following a shootout between gang members and private security guards over extortion activities.

Another incident took place in the San Martín municipality of the San Salvador department, where gang members murdered three individuals. In their attempt to flee, six suspects, allegedly members of the Barrio 18 gang, were killed by elements of the Special Reactionary Forces (Fuerzas Especializadas de Reacción El Salvador - FES), reported El Mundo. Four of them were shot in their escape vehicle.

According to the Nicaraguan media La Prensa, Cotto refuted the notion that these incidents signalled a new wave of violence and insecurity. This stance was echoed by the Justice and Public Security Minister Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde, who chose to describe the murderous day as "abnormal."

InSight Crime Analysis

These recent violent events show that the maras still possess the power to wreak havoc in the country, despite the government's anti-gang strategy.

Cotto in February praised the extraordinary measures implemented in 2016 against gangs for their alleged impact on the decrease of homicides that year. But as InSight Crime had noted then, the fall in violence may have been as much the result of a decision by the gangs to ease their attacks than of a government policy.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

The killing of the six suspects in San Martín, including four within their own vehicle, indicates that the government is maintaining its hardline crackdown on the gangs. Authorities asserted that the gang members opened fire first, but there is growing evidence of increased extrajudicial killings by El Salvadoran security forces, and the FES was set up with the explicit purpose of violently cracking down on gangs.

Given this context, the latest incidents could constitute early signs of an end to the 2016 trend of decreasing homicides.

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 FEB 2016

In response to a recent article on the MS13 published by Foreign Policy and reprinted at…

MEXICO / 16 OCT 2014

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has put forward a plan to radically reshape the nation’s Justice Department, the latest example…

EL SALVADOR / 24 JAN 2013

Two days before Christmas Eve 2012, a group of gang members and state intelligence agents met with the Flores Escobar…

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…