HomeNewsBrief70% of El Salvador Murder Victims Not Linked to Gangs: Police
BRIEF

70% of El Salvador Murder Victims Not Linked to Gangs: Police

BARRIO 18 / 17 NOV 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Nearly 70 percent of murder victims in El Salvador have no connection to gangs, according to a new police study, undermining the official narrative that skyrocketing violence in the country principally affects the criminals themselves.

Homicide statistics recorded by the police show that of the 8,150 murder victims in El Salvador from the start of 2014 to mid-September 2015, only 32 percent had established links to gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18, reported El Diario de Hoy.

Over 80 percent of the murders were carried out with firearms and nearly 54 percent took place in rural areas. The motives behind the killings remain a mystery in over 97 percent of cases, but among those that are known, confrontations between gangs and police, which led to 197 murders, and robberies, which led to 185, are the most common reasons, according to El Diario de Hoy.

Of the murders recorded in the report, 4,599 took place in 2015, equal to nearly 18 murders per day.

InSight Crime Analysis

Violence in El Salvador has spiralled out of control in 2015, and the country has seen killings on a scale not witnessed since the end of its civil war in 1992.

The conventional narrative is that behind this violence is gang hostilities renewed since the collapse of the truce between the MS13 and Barrio 18 that was in place between 2012 and 2014. However, the new figures show violence patterns to be more complex than simple warfare between rival gangs and the state — although it should be noted, the figures offer little clarity on how many murders gang members carried out.

SEE ALSO: El Salvaador’s Gang Truce, Positives and Negatives

The figures from the new report directly contradict previous statements made by the Salvadoran police, which earlier this year claimed that the majority of murder victims and perpetrators are connected to gangs.

Dismissing murder victims as criminals can be a rhetorical tactic used by authorities to downplay the gravity of the situation by claiming violence does not affect ordinary people.

However, as these new figures suggest, this is rarely the case. The civilian population can get caught up in criminal violence for numerous reasons, such as being targeted for extortion or being labelled as “enemy collaborators.”

Compartir 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

CARSI / 22 MAR 2011

President Obama will visit El Salvador today, the third leg of his Latin America tour. It's a stop…

BARRIO 18 / 8 MAY 2015

El Salvador's president has announced the deployment of military brigades to contain the country's street gangs, a measure that will…

EL SALVADOR / 21 APR 2014

El Salvador's security minister has proposed revitalizing the country's "pacification process," drawing input from the business sector and civil society,…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…