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

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 MAY 2018

José Luis Merino is one of the most powerful figures in El Salvador’s governing political party and played a key…

ARGENTINA / 1 FEB 2022

In 2021, most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a marked increase in murders. Resurgent violence was to…

EL SALVADOR / 27 AUG 2013

A scheme that placed undercover police officers and soldiers on board El Salvador buses to combat extortion and robbery…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…