HomeNewsBriefSalvador Police Link MS-13 to International Cocaine Shipment
BRIEF

Salvador Police Link MS-13 to International Cocaine Shipment

EL SALVADOR / 9 NOV 2012 BY CLAIRE O NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

Salvadoran police suspect the MS-13 gang of being in charge of transporting a large cocaine shipment seized in the Pacific province of Sonsonate, suggesting that the group is building ties with international traffickers.

On October 7, police discovered a boat containing 113 packages of cocaine, valued at over $2 million, on the shore of Metalio, Sonsonate, reported El Mundo. The boat had no crew or identifying flag.

The head of the Attorney General's anti-drug trafficking unit suggested that the manner in which the drugs were hidden was characteristic of South American trafficking organizations. Anti-narcotics police chief Marco Tulio Lima said that the boat seized is of a type generally constructed in Colombia or Ecuador.

According to El Mundo, Lima offered several hypotheses about how the boat ended up on the beach in Metalio. One is that the presence of the navy spooked the drug traffickers into abandoning their load. Another is that the boat was dropped off in Metalio so that local gang members could unload the cocaine and transport it overland to Guatemala. Lima added that the area surrounding Metalio is controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and suggested that the street gang might be working "in complicity with maritime traffickers in the region."

InSight Crime Analysis

Located in northern El Salvador on the Pacific coast, Sonsonate is a strategic hub for traffickers seeking to move drug shipments into Guatemala and on to Mexico. The province is also the country's most violent, with a homicide rate of 88 per 100,000 in 2011, due partly to infighting among local gangs for territorial control.

If the police are correct that MS-13 was responsible for transporting the cocaine shipment, it would suggest the gang has established links with international drug traffickers in Sonsonate. Police have said that in Chalatenango province, which borders on Honduras, the links between organized crime and gangs like the MS-13 are so established that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.

The question is whether the MS-13 would actually be contracted to unload a cocaine shipment and traffic it themselves into Guatemala -- such work is usually performed by local groups known as "transportistas." There are allegations that MS-13 is becoming more deeply involved in transnational criminal activities, working as local enforcers for traffickers moving cocaine through El Salvador.

The US Treasury Department even officially designated the group as a transnational criminal organization, the first such designation for a street gang, although the decision has been questioned by some observers, including El Salvador's president.

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

BRAZIL / 31 DEC 2021

Prediction of the criminal dynamics for 2022 is even harder than most years, as it involves predicting the march of…

BARRIO 18 / 14 SEP 2022

In the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico, Carlos was trained to become a ruthless soldier for the Cárteles Unidos.

COCAINE / 17 FEB 2021

Following the capture of some of its biggest criminal names, organized crime in Honduras has gone through a metamorphosis that…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…