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.

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

BARRIO 18 / 16 FEB 2018

The United Nations has it eyes set on El Salvador. In a period of a few months, four of its…

EL SALVADOR / 1 SEP 2016

A judge has ordered El Salvador's former attorney general to remain behind bars despite his having posted bail in a…

HOMICIDES / 7 APR 2016

For those of us preoccupied with the study of crime in Mexico, there is one great frustration. That official statistics…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…