El Salvador’s Politics of Perpetual Violence

  • What’s the issue? After fifteen years of failed security policies, the government of El Salvador and criminal gangs are deadlocked in an open confrontation. Efforts aimed at tackling the deep-rooted social issues behind the gang phenomenon have not produced desired results due to a lack of political commitment and social divisions that gangs use to their advantage.

  • Why does it matter? Born in the wake of U.S. deportation policies in the late 90s, gang violence in El Salvador has developed into a national security problem that accounts for the country’s sky-high murder rate. The combination of mano dura (iron fist) policies and the U.S. administration’s approach to migration could worsen El Salvador’s already critical security situation.

  • What should be done? All political actors should honour the government’s holistic violence prevention strategies by fully implementing them and reframing anti-gang policies. Specific police and justice reforms, as well as a legal framework for rehabilitating former gang members, are crucial steps toward a future pacification process.

Executive Summary

El Salvador, a small country in the isthmus of Central America, is wracked by an implacable strain of gang warfare. Exceptionally intense and persistent violence pits rival street gangs against one another and in opposition to the police and state. Formerly hailed for its smooth transition to democracy and for turning the two foes of its 1980s civil war into political forces competing vigorously yet peaceably for power, El Salvador once again is famed for its bloodletting. Its recent murder rates rank among the highest in the world and its jails are among the most overcrowded. For the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, its main gang, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), personifies the menace of undocumented immigration. Although the Salvadoran state has developed a series of strategies for violence prevention, its mainly repressive efforts over the past fifteen years have checked the influence of these alternative approaches. It should now implement plans to prevent crime, rehabilitate gang members and spur development in marginalised communities. Most urgently, El Salvador will require protection from the turbulence that U.S. mass deportations could provoke.

The permanence of violence owes as much to the success as to the failings of the peace accords. The two former wartime foes have jostled for democratic supremacy, repeatedly using security policy for electoral purposes by seeking to satisfy public demand for mano dura (iron fist) against the gangs. Although government has changed hands, security methods have not altered: mass detentions and incarceration, as well as militarisation of policing, have become standard procedure whether under the rule of right-wing elites or former guerrillas. U.S. authorities have recently offered support to this approach, pledging to “dismantle” the MS-13.

In private, however, high-level officials from across the country’s political divide lament the harmful effects of this crackdown on over-stretched courts and front-line police. Blueprints geared to preventing the drift of young men from low-income neighbourhoods into gang life have been drafted: the government launched the most recent, the “Safe El Salvador” plan, as a holistic strategy to restore the state’s territorial control. But as violence soared after 2014 following the disintegration of a truce with the gangs, extreme measures of jail confinement and police raids have once again become the government’s predominant methods to choke the gangs. Allegations of police brutality and extrajudicial executions have multiplied.

Recent surveys suggest that veteran members of these gangs wish to cease the violence. However, the economic dead-end of El Salvador’s urban outskirts – the country’s recent GDP growth rate of 1.9 per cent is among the lowest in Central America – continues to drive a supply of willing young recruits, and consolidate a rearguard of sympathisers dependent on income from the gangs’ extortion schemes and other rackets. The reality and stigma of gang violence combine to block off alternative ways of life for those born into these communities, cutting years of schooling for young people in areas of high gang presence and alienating potential employers. Instead of succumbing to the state’s offensive, gangs set up roadblocks in their neighbourhoods and impose their own law; their fight against security forces has claimed the lives of 45 police officers so far this year.

The deadlock between a tarnished set of security policies and a gang phenomenon that thrives on the ostracism and contempt of mainstream Salvadoran society can only now be resolved by recasting the way the country treats its security dilemmas. Judicial and security institutions require careful reform to ensure resources are distributed to areas with the highest concentrations of violence, and used to boost intelligence-led policing that targets gang members committing the most serious crimes. Jail-based reinsertion schemes, and cooperation with diverse churches, NGOs and businesses that offer second chances to former gang members, must be strengthened to provide a legal framework for rehabilitation as well as material incentives for the gangs to eventually disband. Although the country’s main political parties and most of the public oppose any hint of negotiation with gangs, the reality in many poor areas is of constant daily encounters with these groups. Tolerance for these grassroots efforts, despite the existing legal restrictions on any contact with gangs, is essential to build the confidence that will be required for dialogue in the future.

None of this will be easy, nor is it likely to be assisted by U.S. policy toward either gangs or Salvadoran immigrants. The potential cancellation of the rights to residency in the U.S. of 195,000 beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program threatens to overwhelm the Salvadoran state’s capacity to accommodate returnees, not unlike the experience of the late 1990s when mass deportations of gang members from the U.S. to El Salvador exported the criminal capital that led to the lightning rise of the MS-13 and its main rival, the 18th Street gang. El Salvador is simply unprepared, economically and institutionally, to receive such an influx, or to handle their 192,700 U.S. children, many of them at the perfect age for recruitment or victimisation by gangs. At a time when levels of violence remain extraordinarily high, with exhaustion toward an unwinnable conflict voiced on both sides, the arrival of thousands of migrants back to their crime-affected homeland would impose huge strains. To escape its perpetual violence, El Salvador needs support, not the recurrence of past mistakes.


To improve El Salvador’s public policies on security and prevent further regional spillover of gang violence and undocumented migration.

To the government of El Salvador:

  1. Fully implement the five axes of “Plan Safe El Salvador”, and balance investment between law enforcement, institutional strengthening and violence prevention.

  2. Approve a legal framework for rehabilitation, with special emphasis on the reinsertion of former gang members into society in coordination with local NGOs and the church.

  3. Recognise the existence of forced displacement in El Salvador, adopt the Comprehensive Regional Framework for Protection and Solutions (MIRPS), and work in coordination with local NGOs to implement protection mechanisms for its victims.

  4. Allow visits from humanitarian organisations to high security jails.

  5. Institutionalise by executive order monthly meetings between the security cabinet and human rights groups to monitor alleged violations of human rights by security forces.

  6. Create stronger coordination protocols between the National Civil Police and the prosecutor’s office, and strengthen the former’s internal control unit to ensure those suspected of abuse or corruption are held accountable.

To members of El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly:

  1. Promote multiparty efforts on security and support the government in the implementation of “Plan Safe El Salvador”.

  2. Revise the distribution of resources in the judiciary to ensure they are based on intensity of criminal activity rather than administrative criteria.

  3. Stabilise funding to the prosecutor’s office by giving it a fixed percentage of the annual state budget, and mandate the office with monitoring forced disappearances.

To the government of the U.S.:

  1. Avoid massive deportations, and redesignate El Salvador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

  2. Continue providing El Salvador with financial support to carry out violence-prevention initiatives, and place a greater emphasis on investigative policing and general skills training in the security forces.

To El Salvador donor countries and institutions:

  1. Promote creation of an independent observatory to provide monthly information on crime victims, gang expansion and homicide figures.

  2. Finance a plan in coordination with the private sector to offer incoming youth deportees job skills and employment opportunities.

Guatemala City/Brussels, 19 December 2017


In January 2017, El Salvador’s celebrated the 25th anniversary of the end of its civil war (1980-1992), which killed 70,000 people and displaced over a million. Sealing the end of the conflict, the 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords enabled the former guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front(FMLN) to transform into a political party, and created a new civilian police force. Since then, El Salvador has remained among the most politically stable countries in Latin America, with two main parties that are heirs to the two sides of the internecine conflict – the left-wing FMLN and the conservative National Republican Alliance (ARENA) – peacefully alternating in power.

However, the country’s post-war political and security institutions have proved singularly unable to respond to an evolving and expanding criminal landscape. The country has suffered at least 93,000 murders since 1993, over half of which can be attributed to gangs. These groups now have around 60,000 active members and an estimated social support base of 500,000 – 8 per cent of El Salvador’s 6.2 million population – making them the largest criminal organisations in Central America. Although gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the two factions of 18th Street gang have a worldwide presence, their violent behaviour in El Salvador constitutes a national security crisis. Gangs control an undefined number of informal settlements and urban outskirts all over the country, and finance themselves mostly through small-scale extortion.

Since 2003, both FMLN and ARENA governments have anchored their anti-criminal policies in restoring full state control over territory with high gang presence, mass incarceration and joint police and military operations. The current fight against crime, unveiled in early 2015 by President Sánchez Cerén of the ruling FMLN party, is the latest in a long line of law enforcement campaigns, although this initiative places more emphasis than predecessors on violence prevention in selected municipalities. Yet past and present anti-gang policies have achieved little in terms of stemming violent crime, and in some cases have even contributed to gang recruitment, financial prowess and firepower. Between 2013 and 2015 El Salvador experienced its steepest escalation in violence since 1994, with 11,934 homicides in 2015 and 2016 combined, a 53 per cent increase in comparison to the 2013-2014 period.

Far from abating, El Salvador’s extreme insecurity could well intensify in 2018 as a number of threats loom over the country and the Central American region as a whole. These include the potentially devastating shock of new U.S. migration policies, economic and financial strains, and the possibly disruptive interference by gangs in forthcoming local elections.

This report, Crisis Group’s first ever publication on El Salvador, assesses the origins of the country’s violence, as well as the characteristics of and motives behind past and present security strategies. Combining original quantitative analysis based on official violence and migration statistics from El Salvador and the U.S., as well as extensive fieldwork across the country, the report identifies the principal causes behind security policy failures and highlights opportunities for a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to crime reduction. Crisis Group conducted over 70 interviews with top-level government officials, grassroots NGOs, academics, humanitarian workers, diplomats, security experts, and victims living in gang-controlled areas. All fieldwork was carried out in the country’s most violent areas, such as the capital San Salvador and the smaller municipalities of San Miguel and Santa Ana.

II.State and Crime in El Salvador

Two strong political parties with deep social roots, a judicial system marked by an unequal distribution of resources, and a police force increasingly backed by military clout stand out among the main features of El Salvador’s public security institutions. The MS-13 gang and the two factions of the 18th Street gang are the largest criminal groups operating in the country; their ability to inflict high levels of violence and intimidation is directly related to an increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and asylum seekers in the region.

A.Security Policies and El Salvador’s Two-party System

El Salvador has a robust two-party system dominated by the FMLN and ARENA. The country’s fourteen departments and 262 municipalities depend largely on the central government – controlled by the FMLN since 2009 – for the design and implementation of security policies. Most security powers fall under the remit of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, which runs the police and the prison system. The country’s parliament, the Legislative Assembly – dominated since 2012 by ARENA – has 84 deputies from five parties, and a specific committee overseeing security matters. Local governments have gained a greater say in recent years over the implementation of violence prevention initiatives, but their main role continues to be that of sustaining the parties’ social support base in a context of constant electoral campaigning.

The FMLN and ARENA both draw on strong public roots and feature hierarchical structures and leadership cohorts that have remained largely intact for the last 25 years. The FMLN has around 30,000 rank-and-file militants, most of them from urban areas; ARENA has more active affiliates, 50,000, with a support base primarily located in rural municipalities. The two parties represent opposite social and ideological poles. Whereas the FMLN still deploys revolutionary rhetoric and aligns itself with other left-wing political movements in the hemisphere, ARENA was founded as an anti-communist party and is backed by the country’s economic and business elites. In both parties, decision-making is concentrated in a select circle of high-level figures, most of whom have been in charge since 1992.

Despite stark ideological differences, the main parties’ approaches to security are surprisingly similar. From 1999 to 2009, ARENA based its anti-criminal strategy on swift judicial processes, more arrests and mass incarceration. The FMLN continued this punitive approach – especially since its second mandate started in 2014 – with even harsher confinement conditions for jailed gang members and an enhanced role for the military in public security. Since losing executive power, ARENA has expressed only modest opposition to decisions taken by the Security Cabinet, the highest authority on these issues. Its most prominent members are the Vice President and presidential appointee for security Óscar Ortiz; the Minister of Justice and Public Security Mauricio Rodríguez Landaverde; and the Director of the Police Howard Cotto.

However, decision-making on security and other national priorities has been handicapped in recent years by a divided Assembly controlled by ARENA, which has forced the FMLN to compromise and seek support from smaller groups. New parties such as the right-wing Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) have benefited from this parliamentary blockage, with its leader Guillermo Gallegos elected president of the Legislative Assembly in 2015. Only a handful of cross-party agreements have been reached, while more than 25 negotiation attempts in key policy areas have collapsed. The most recent was a six-month UN-backed mission launched in January 2017 to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of the war, which failed to establish common ground between the main parties. The chief of mission, Mexican diplomat Benito Andión, finished the mandate in July 2017 concluding that “conditions [for consensus] were not met” in the current political climate.

The arrival of young leaders on the national political scene, and a sharp drop in popular support for both the FMLN and ARENA, could be the harbinger of a shift away from traditional two-party rule. “Around 40 to 50 per cent of the Salvadoran population have not made up their minds as to which party to vote for”, affirms a San Salvador-based political analyst.The most well-known representatives of this younger political generation are San Salvador Mayor Nayib Bukele – who was expelled from the FMLN in October 2017 after a series of internal party squabbles – and Johnny Wright Sol, an ARENA lawmaker who opted not to stand for re-election in 2018 due to disagreements with the party’s leadership. Both have announced they will stand as independent candidates in the 2019 presidential elections, when the strength of the main parties will be tested.

B.The Judicial System, Security Forces and Jails

The institutions in charge of investigating and trying crimes in El Salvador are the prosecutor’s office, the police and the judiciary. The prosecutor’s office (in Spanish Fiscalía General de la República) is part of the larger public ministry, while the judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court and its different chambers. Both are independent public powers; in contrast, the National Civil Police is run by the executive branch’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

Saturation of courts and a chronic paucity of forensic evidence are common challenges for most Latin American judicial institutions, but in El Salvador extreme criminal violence and new norms of legal prosecution based on mass detentions have gravely undermined the country’s courts. Since the distribution of judicial personnel is purely based on the country’s administrative divisions, magistrates working in more violent areas process up to ten times more cases than colleagues in quieter municipalities: “[our work] looks like a maquila [a factory that assembles goods]”, explained a judge from San Salvador. Poor relations with the police undermine the prosecutor’s office, spurring Attorney General Douglas Meléndez to demand that he be given his own investigative force: “we work with borrowed hands and teeth”, said Meléndez in a July 2017 conference.

Meanwhile, the Salvadoran police have come under increasing pressure as it seeks to deal with demands to combat violent crime and armed attacks from gangs. The National Civil Police has 28,000 officers, around 90 per cent of whom come from humble social backgrounds, and the average salary is $424 per month. This forces many to live in gang-controlled areas, usually neighbourhoods with lower rents, putting them and their families at risk. Officers in the field describe feeling alone and emotionally exhausted during but also after work. “After work, when we become normal citizens, I feel vulnerable … I just had a colleague killed this week during his time off”, said one police officer on the El Salvador-Guatemala border. Criminal groups reportedly killed 45 officers from 1 January to 6 December 2017.

Originally designed in the peace accord to have a community-oriented role, the rising gang presence has increasingly pushed the police force toward methods based on armed raids in gang-affected communities as well as direct confrontation and firefights. These rose from 256 in 2014 to 676 in 2015, leaving 83 officers and 359 alleged criminals dead. Human rights groups argue this increase conceals a wave of extrajudicial killings, and presented this data to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in September 2017. Government authorities acknowledged there may be some cases of excesses or misconduct but said they were “personal decisions [by officers], not a state policy”. However, several media outlets have published in-depth investigations of alleged massacres of suspected gang members, sexual abuse of minors and extortion.Although the police monitors alleged abuses, and senior security authorities meet monthly with human rights representatives to discuss relevant cases, NGOs have denounced lack of accountability for officers suspected of abuse.

The burdens on the police have pushed the military towards deeper involvement in public security issues, converting its participation in anti-crime operations into a semi-permanent strategy. The Salvadoran army is the national institution with the highest public approval rating, and included around 24,800 active members in 2014. It understands its security role as a temporary measure limited to following police orders. However, senior officers consider military involvement to have become normal procedure given the transformation of the gang phenomenon: “we operate in a grey area … the criminal problem in this country has turned from a public security to a national security issue”.

Corruption is prevalent in Salvadoran judicial and security institutions, though this is also common in many Latin American countries. A total of 31 per cent of Salvadorans report having paid a bribe to access basic public services over the past year according a 2017 Transparency International study, below other countries in the region such as Mexico (51) or Panama (38). The lack of effective internal control mechanisms harms these bodies’ reputation. Accountability in most cases relies on the individual probity and political will of high-level officials, who themselves are chosen by a majority vote of the Legislative Assembly. The case of former Attorney General Luis Martínez, detained by his successor Douglas Meléndez, illustrates alleged abuses of state power. Martínez was incarcerated in August 2016 on charges of conspiracy, litigation fraud and withholding evidence during his mandate, although he denies the accusations and so far has not been convicted of any crime.

At the end of the country’s penal process stands a prison system that is among the world’s most overcrowded. Fourteen prisons house approximately 39,000 inmates, of whom 26,000 have been sentenced and 13,000 are remanded in custody. This includes prisoners in police detention stations, some of them converted into longer-term facilities due to lack of space. Roughly 6oo officers and prison guards watch over the jail population, far below the ideal ratio of public officials to prisoners.Some jails have been placed under a state of emergency since early 2016, when the government imposed harsh new confinement conditions on gang members. El Salvador’s Human Rights Prosecutor and several NGOs have denounced “systematic human rights violations” in jails under the new measures. One prison officer described the sixth sector of Zacatecoluca prison, where the national leaders of the largest gangs are held, as follows: “[from that place] you either leave dead or demented … it scared the hell out of me”.

C.Gang Violence and Homicide Rates

Gang violence is a regional phenomenon rooted in the countries of Central America’s Northern Triangle, but which now has international reach. The largest, most violent groups are the MS-13 and the two factions of 18th Street gang (in Spanish Barrio 18), 18-Southerners and 18-Revolutionaries. The origin of these groups, and the long history of rivalry among them, can be traced back to emigrant Central American communities in 1980s California. After mass deportations from the U.S. in the late 1990s, Salvadoran gangs adopted U.S. gang culture and identity, and pioneered the expansion of MS-13 and the 18th Street gang in the early 2000s.These gangs have a worldwide presence of around 140,000 members, of whom 40,000 live in the U.S. and 100,000 are based in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Italy.

Figure 1: Homicide rates in municipalities with low and high gang presence and yearly criminal deportations from the U.S. National Civilian Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

1.The exceptional problem of gang violence in El Salvador

In light of El Salvador’s size and population, the extent of gangs’ territorial presence, as well as its armed power, has no equal anywhere in the world. The country has the largest number of active gang-members in the region, an estimated 60,000, which exceeds the approximately 52,000 Salvadoran police and military officers. The gang social support base rises to 500,000 people – almost 8 per cent of total population – including sympathisers and former members, or calmados (gang lexicon for those who have desisted from gang activities).

The typical profile of a gang member in El Salvador is a young male around 25 years old, born to a low-income, often broken family, who joined the gang at the age of fifteen. According to a March 2017 survey of over 1,000 jailed gang affiliates, most members came from marginalised neighbourhoods, and 70 per cent lived on less than $250 a month. The same study suggested that some 94 per cent do not have a secondary education; over 80 per cent have never held formal employment; and more than half come from families that had suffered a break-up.

The relationship between criminal activity and territorial presence is perhaps the most unique feature of the country’s gang phenomenon. Gang revenues are drawn from extortion rackets and, to a lesser extent, drug-trafficking and sales. Gangs such the MS-13 gain up to $31.2 million per year from extorting 70 per cent of all the businesses in the territories where they are present, estimated at 247 out of the country’s 262 municipalities. Most of their victims are small- and medium-sized business-owners, informal tradespeople and transport workers. Unlike their peers in Honduras, Salvadoran gangs do not have direct business control over parts of the drug trade, but have sub-contractual relationship with narco-traffickers, who employ them sporadically as muscle in some operations.

The response from the Salvadoran state to the gang threat has triggered major transformations inside these organisations. After 4,000 gang members were jailed between 2004 and 2008 – and segregated by rival groups to avoid violent clashes – gang leaders began to centralise operations and behave more like traditional criminal bosses. According to Jeannette Aguilar, a Salvadoran academic: “the rise of the jail population [after the first] anti-gang plans … enabled [these groups] to find in jails a suitable niche for their formalisation and institutionalisation, making jails their new spaces for territorial control”. El Salvador’s security policies in the 2000s, based on mass incarceration of suspected gang members, also helped gangs diversify their criminal activities – including extortion – by improving communication channels, and discouraging tattoos so as to avoid police identification.

A failed attempt at state-led indirect dialogue with gang leaders between 2012 and 2013 spurred the most recent transformation of Salvadoran gangs. The collapse of the truce led to “anarchy” inside gangs’ neighbourhood cells, or clicas, as leaders were isolated in maximum security prisons after the implementation of “extraordinary measures” in mid-2016. According to various sources, gangs have intensified violence against public officials and expanded their presence into rural areas.Media investigations and testimony gathered by the prosecutor’s office suggest that, in the run-up to the 2014 presidential elections, ARENA and FMLN party bosses allegedly paid gangs $350,000 in exchange for votes in territories under their control.

If true, the alleged deal – denied by both political parties – would point to gangs’ extraordinary power to influence electoral processes and threaten candidates. Some local authorities fear ties between gangs and parties could also impinge on voting in upcoming polls. Many officials confirm in private that communication with gangs is inevitable: “Let’s be honest: every single party in this country talks to gangs, how they would not, since they have to organise rallies in their territories?”, said a veteran government official.

Although nowadays gangs appear more dangerous than ever, there are signs that a significant number of members would be willing to lay down arms. In January 2017, gangs released a joint communiqué a week before the 25th anniversary of the 1992 peace accords asking the government for a new dialogue process, and offering to disband.According to the previously mentioned survey, nearly 70 per cent of jailed gang members have intentions of leaving the group. The authors said respondents commonly gave personal reasons, such as becoming parents, surviving an attack or the effect of a friend’s or relative’s murder.

2.Beyond homicide rates

With a murder rate of 103 per 100,000 people, El Salvador became in 2015 the country with the highest murder rate in the world. This rise in homicides includes an increase in mass killings and femicides.According to a 2013 study by Fundaungo, a local think-tank, over half those killed between 2009 and 2012 were fifteen-34 years old; approximately 80 per cent of the victims were male; 70 per cent of the killings were carried out by firearms; and nearly 40 per cent took place in public spaces.

How many of these murders can be attributed to gang violence is in dispute. But by 2012, the predominant role of gang violence in the overall number of homicides had become much clearer. During the first months of negotiation with the gangs, killings fell by 40 per cent. This sudden drop suggested that by 2012 gang leaders had sufficient power over local branches to reduce killings sharply nationwide. Disappearances have also become a grave concern, even though no public institution in El Salvador systematically tracks these cases: between 2010 and 2016, the prosecutor’s office received 23,000 reports of disappearances, and the police 11,252.

D.Criminal Violence and Migration

Central America is afflicted by a humanitarian crisis that has spread to the U.S. and Mexico. The number of refugees and asylum-seekers from the three countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) has seen nearly a tenfold increase since 2011 according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In 2016, UNHCR estimated that there were 164,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador combined, as well as 450,000 irregular crossings from these countries to Mexico. Since 2015, Mexico and Costa Rica have experienced a steep increase in asylum requests from Northern Triangle migrants. While migration in Central America has historically been tied to the search for economic opportunity, the recent spike in undocumented migration owes much to the flight from criminal violence. According to a May 2017 survey by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), nearly 40 per cent of asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle in Mexico mentioned direct attacks from criminal groups as a reason for fleeing.

The scope of the humanitarian emergency in El Salvador is hard to measure given the lack of official data on the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) – itself a reflection of the government’s refusal to recognise this phenomenon even though the Supreme Court of Justice and the human rights prosecutor have officially acknowledged it. While many factors explain this refusal, the high domestic political cost ranks as the most relevant. Human rights groups insist that the state’s attitude means victims may go unattended, while NGOs are obliged to set up ad hoc protection mechanisms. Some government officials also regret the lack of official recognition of this issue, but at the same time claim ongoing police efforts to protect victims is not appreciated either.

III.Deportation and Gangs: The Spillover of Insecurity