HomeNewsBriefWeapons Surrendered by El Salvador’s Maras Useless
BRIEF

Weapons Surrendered by El Salvador’s Maras Useless

EL SALVADOR / 8 AUG 2013 BY JEREMY MCDERMOTT EN

Revelations that weapons handed over by Mara gangs do not work, combined with rising murder rates, are calling into question the validity of the truce between El Salvador’s two main street gangs.

Analysis of around 500 weapons handed over by Mara gangs since June 2012, carried out by both Salvadoran and US authorities, revealed that the vast majority were not in working order. The surrender of the weapons was hailed at the time as evidence of the importance and seriousness of the truce, called between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, in March 2012.

The news coincides with reports of 69 murders committed in just six days. These homicides, carried out between the first and sixth of August, mark an increase of 24 murders compared with the same period last year. Police have linked 29 of the 69 murders to gang violence.

InSight Crime Analysis

This revelation that the surrendered weapons were useless, calls into question the commitment of the Mara gangs who surrendered them as a gesture of “good faith.” It is perhaps not surprising, however. The same phenomenon was registered in Colombia, when the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) surrendered a large number of obsolete weapons as part of the peace process with the government.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador’s Gang Truce: Positives and Negatives

The rise in homicides — which also spiked dramatically at certain points in May and June — is more worrying. After the announcement of the truce last year, murders fell 40 percent during 2012. This marked drop gave the truce immense credibility and lead to increased support. That credibility is now beginning to evaporate, along with much of the support.

What the increase in homicides might reveal is that the grip of the Mara leaders, most of whom are in prison, where the truce was negotiated, is beginning to loosen. The structure of both Mara gangs has traditionally been fragmented, with each of the different “cliques” on the ground enjoying significant autonomy. One of the most surprising aspects of the truce in its early days was the discipline that the two structures showed in respecting the decisions of the Mara leadership and putting an end, at least temporarily, to long-standing and bloody feuds.

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.

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 1 MAY 2018

Relatives of a prominent MS13 leader in El Salvador were arrested on allegations that they received drug shipments originating in…

EL SALVADOR / 21 FEB 2018

The trial has begun in Spain related to the country's largest-ever operation against the MS13, revealing details of the Central…

EL SALVADOR / 21 NOV 2011

Authorities in El Salvador say they are pushing through with a police clean-up which has seen hundreds of officers sanctioned…

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…