Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 1: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) 500 Man Commando Unit Planned For El Salvador

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Politics and Economics (CGU)

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Defense and Security Studies | Military and Veterans Studies | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


These reports demonstrate the concerns of the Salvadoran state about the challenge of gangs — specifically the maras (MS-13 and Barrio 18) and their constituent cliques (clicas or núcleos) — to state security and stability. Over the past few years (from 2011-2015), the maras have increased their firepower, physical training, and weapons handling. This has led Salvadoran observers to believe that El Salvador’s maras are becoming sophisticated actors with major influence on the criminal landscape within Salvador and beyond—that is, becoming transnational actors in the fashion of the Mexican criminal cartels (mafias).

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