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The Collaborators in Guatemala: Chained to the MS13

The number of imprisoned women in Guatemala has quadrupled in the past five years, influenced by an increase in police mega-operations yielding more arrests...

The Collaborators in Honduras: The Girls Who Want to be Mortal

At 15, you are a woman, a gang member for the Barrio 18, in a marginal barrio of Honduras. You have kids, you are jailed, police abuse you and you question how to change your future. This is a story about three such women, two teens and one adult, who are living an endless cycle of violence.

New El Salvador President Will Face Old El Salvador Problem

A spike in police slayings have El Salvador's officers on edge as some called on social media for extrajudicial executions of suspected members of the street gangs, an issue that will be front and center for the country’s newly elected President Nayib Bukele. 

The Collaborators in El Salvador: The Witness’s Girlfriend Goes Free

The use of protected witnesses by El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office increased by 15 times in the last 11 years. The case of a young woman accused by her boyfriend of collaborating with the Barrio 18 Sureños gang, and later acquitted by the courts, illustrates the excessive use of questionable testimonies.

How Would El Salvador’s Presidential Candidates Tackle Organized Crime?

The citizens of El Salvador are set to elect a new president on February 3 amid an uptick in deadly violence in January, which has thrust the country’s security situation back into the spotlight.

Growing Extortion Spurs Wave of Deadly Bus Attacks in Guatemala

Though violence has decreased in Guatemala, recent deadly attacks against buses show that public transport remains under siege by gangs, which have increased their...

Political Mafias Helped Empower Gangs, says El Salvador Security Expert

The homicide rate in El Salvador has spiked after authorities in the Central American nation saw a substantial reduction in homicides in 2018, raising important questions about the role of the country’s gangs in the electoral process and the government’s strategies to combat them.

El Salvador Homicides Thrust MS13 Back Into Official Discourse

El Salvador ended 2018 on a good note, according to official homicide statistics, but a recent uptick in homicides has thrust the MS13 back into the national conversation.

InSight Crime's 2018 Criminal GameChangers

GameChangers 2018: The Year Crime Became an Ideology

Welcome to InSight Crime’s Criminal GameChangers 2018, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over the course of the year. From a rise in illicit drug availability and resurgence of monolithic criminal groups to the weakening of anti-corruption efforts and a swell in militarized responses to crime, 2018 was a year in which political issues were still often framed as left or right, but the only ideology that mattered was organized crime.

Who Taught the MS13 Politics?

The first MS13 and Barrio 18 gang members to arrive in El Salvador were deported from the United States in the late 1980s. Some even fought in the civil war, which did not end until 1992. In El Salvador they found fertile territory for their organizations to flourish, recruiting a generation of adolescents and teens for whom the Cold War had no relevance and the future held no promise. They put down deep roots among those already marginalized by society and soon controlled streets, squares and entire neighborhoods.

Gang Prevention in Central America: A Lost Battle Against State Indifference?

With migrants fleeing murder and violence in caravans and the evident flop of repressive policies in the Northern Triangle, gang prevention and rehabilitation programs shine evermore appealing. But their impact will continue to be limited unless governments invest time and resources in more effective strategies.

For Informant, a Treacherous Road to Justice in El Salvador

Even under the best of circumstances, there are few incentives to become a cooperating witness in an extortion case in El Salvador. And, as one witness has found out, participation is no guarantee that anything will change.