HomeNewsBriefIs Uptick in Murders Eroding El Salvador Gang Truce?
BRIEF

Is Uptick in Murders Eroding El Salvador Gang Truce?

BARRIO 18 / 21 FEB 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

A spate of apparent revenge killings carried out by gangs in El Salvador has raised concerns about the sustainability of the country's gang truce, as the government announces plans to expand violence-free "peace zones."

According to the newspaper El Nacional, four people died and three were injured in a gunfight between rival gangs on February 1, in San Miguel, El Salvador's third-largest city. Justice and Security Minister David Munguia Payes says there has been "a chain of revenge" attacks carried out despite the truce between the country's two main gangs, Barrio 18 and MS-13.

The minister said recent killings had seen the murder rate creep up to an average of 6.6 a day since the start of this year, up from 5.3 at the end of 2012. However, the rate still remains far below the average of 14 murders a day registered before the truce.

Three recent murders took place in the municipality of Ilopango -- one of the areas designated as a "peace zone," where the gangs have pledged to end criminal activities. 

In a video published by La Presna Grafica, Munguia denied the Ilopango killings undermined the truce and the peace zones, claiming that one murder was carried out by a gang not involved in the truce, while another was killed elsewhere and the body dumped in the area. 

"The violence-free municipalities are going to have incidents, which we are going to evaluate in the medium and long term," he said.

He also announced plans to extend the number of peace zones to 60. The first four peace zones were inaugurated in January, with 14 more currently scheduled.

InSight Crime Analysis

Comparatively minor outbreaks of violence have continued since the truce was first announced in March 2012, but this has not yet undermined support for what could be a fragile initiative. The secretive nature of the process, as well as the lack of clarity about what is next, is making many uneasy.

The peace zone plan, for example, is ambitious, relying on the full support of all gang members and other sectors of society and government to succeed. The rise in homicides and ongoing sporadic violence suggest this may not have been fully secured and that further negotiations could spark some ugly battles over what are scarce resources.

The role of the security services is also unclear. While it has been announced the military will withdraw from the zones, plans to stop night patrols by police remain unconfirmed. A lack of clear guidelines for security forces in the event of violence could become problematic and undermine the effectiveness of the peace zones.

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 / 29 DEC 2017

The Salvadoran government is assuring that there exists a profound division within the Mara Salvatrucha, provoked by a dissident…

BARRIO 18 / 3 APR 2014

Political scientist Juan Carlos Garzon takes a closer look at the relationship between El Salvador's maras and transnational drug trafficking,…

BARRIO 18 / 22 OCT 2015

El Salvador Security Minister Benito Lara's recent criticism of "iron fist" security policies is an abrupt change in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Oceans Pillaged in Central America and the Caribbean

5 AUG 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the first installment of a nine-part investigation uncovering the hidden depths of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in Latin America. The first installment covered Central America and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua Becomes Truly Transnational

29 JUL 2022

This week, InSight Crime published a deep dive into the total control that Venezuelan mega-gang, Tren de Aragua, has over the lives of those it smuggles between Venezuela and Chile…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkish Traffickers Delivering Latin American Cocaine to Persian Gulf

15 JUL 2022

Last week, InSight Crime published the second half of an investigation piecing together the emerging role of Turkish cocaine traffickers in supplying Russia and the Persian Gulf, which are among…

THE ORGANIZATION

Turkey as a Lynchpin in European Cocaine Pipeline

8 JUL 2022

InSight Crime is extending its investigation into the cocaine pipeline to Europe, and tracking the growing connections between Latin American drug traffickers and European criminal organizations. This led us to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Memo Fantasma Coverage Gets Worldwide Attention

1 JUL 2022

Guillermo Acevedo, the former Colombian drug lord and paramilitary commander better known as Memo Fantasma, may soon be allowed to leave prison. Since first revealing the identity of Memo Fantasma…