HomeNewsBriefSurge in Disappearances Reflects Gang Violence in El Salvador
BRIEF

Surge in Disappearances Reflects Gang Violence in El Salvador

BARRIO 18 / 11 JAN 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

El Salvador saw a huge number of disappearances in 2011, with capital San Salvador alone registering more than 2,000 missing people, in a sign of growing gang violence.

In the capital, some 2,007 people were registered as missing with the government forensics office (IML) between January 1 and December 19, 2011, reports El Diario de Hoy.

Miguel Velasquez, an official at the IML, told the newspaper that local gangs, or "maras," were likely involved in three-quarters of the cases.

Young people, aged 15-35, are far more likely to go missing than any other age group, representing up to 60 percent of cases, while about three-quarters of the victims are men.

InSight Crime's Analysis

The figure of more than 2,000 missing would represent an enormous leap in cases in the last few years, as according to figures quoted in the press the police received only in the region of 1,200 reports of disappearances in the two-year period of 2007-08.

If the vast majority of those missing are now dead, as El Diario de Hoy reports, then this would increase the country's murder rate, which stood at 65 per 100,000 in 2011, by one-third. This would bring it into line with neighboring Honduras, which has a rate of over 80 per 100,000 -- the highest in the world.

Much of these murders, and the disappearances, are due to clashes between gangs, often related to fights over territory, as El Faro documented in a recent photo essay. The fact that these gangs are apparently often choosing to hide their victims' bodies rather than leaving them on display, as is often seen in mass killings in Mexico, suggests that they are more concerned to conceal their crime and avoid punishment than to make a public point and spread fear.

The most prominent street gangs in El Salvador are the Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) and Barrio 18.

share 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

BARRIO 18 / 31 JUL 2014

Police in El Salvador have dismantled a criminal network run by a member of the Perrones with Barrio 18 gang…

EL SALVADOR / 24 SEP 2012

The financial accounts of a branch of El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha, as seen by La Prensa Grafica, indicate how deep-rooted…

BARRIO 18 / 8 JUN 2016

El Salvador’s high court declared conditions in the country’s overcrowded prisons unconstitutional in a ruling with implications for the government’s…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

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.