Small Wars Journal

From 18th Street to Barrio 18: The Morphing of a Barrio

Wed, 12/08/2021 - 5:57pm

From 18th Street to Barrio 18: The Morphing of a Barrio

Anibal Serrano

During the 1990s, Eighteenth Street (18th Street) members were deported from the United States to various countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (henceforth, Central America). The deportations were initiated and increased via US legislation such as the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) in the 1990s.[1] 18th Street’s transnational shift was motivated by “internal and transnational migration flows,” as well as, the US increasing deportations of “foreign” criminals.[2] As 18thStreet members arrived in Central America, they brought their own US-based gangster culture, a particular way of dressing, talking, and bravado. These members were deported to countries where they had little to no understanding of the cultural dynamics, as many were born in Central America but raised in the United States. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were new environments, and each presented unique dynamics that 18th Street members had to adapt to, to survive.

Barrio 18

18th Street Gang Members Arrested During Operation Regional Shield. Source: Fiscalía General de la República de El Salvador (El Salvador Attorney General’s Office), 2020.

As 18th Street expanded within Central America, it became known as Barrio 18, Calle 18, Mara 18, and M-18.[3] This article will outline the unique dynamics 18th Street left behind in the United States, the dynamics members faced in Central America, and the specific resulting circumstances in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that have shaped Barrio 18 and how it has morphed. Lastly, the article will underline the corruption in Central America, the increased level of violence of Barrio 18 compared to their US counterparts, and the ostracization of Barrio 18 by Central American governments and society. These factors combined influenced the “morphing” of 18th Street into Barrio 18 within Central America.[4]

Dynamics: Then and Now

There are a few US gang dynamics that did not remain a part of Barrio 18 in Central America. For example, 18th Street's loyalty to the Mexican Mafia (La Eme, Spanish for M). In Los Angeles, California, and throughout Southern California, La Eme dictates gang life inside and outside prisons for all gangs that fall under the Sureños banner. The direct translation of Sureño is “Southerner,” but it is most often understood as “South Sider.”  Sureño gang members claim loyalty to La Eme, a prison gang formed by Southern Californian gang members in the 1950s.18th Street is one of the many Sureño gangs that follow La Eme’s dictates. However, in Central America, Barrio 18 does not have such loyalty or obligation. Some of the first deportee arrivals of 18thStreet might reserve some loyalty for La Eme, but as Barrio 18 established itself in Central America, the link to La Eme faded as time passed.

Today, Barrio 18 is a street gang and a prison gang.[5] It is housed in separate prison facilities where only Barrio 18 members are imprisoned. La Eme has no say in the Central American prisons nor streets. Barrio 18 is self-governing, and there is no publicly available evidence of a connection to 18th Street in the United States. These circumstances created a Barrio 18 that views itself as self-sufficient and self-governed. This has impacted how the gang operates and the guidelines by which Barrio 18 members live by.

To comprehend how 18th Street morphed into Barrio 18 in Central America, it is imperative to understand and consider the dynamics and circumstances that the early 18th Street members were deported into and how they began to expand membership. 18th Street members found themselves living in countries that, to them, felt foreign and new. Numerous 18th Street members who were deported had little to no understanding of the country, the culture, and the society they entered.[6] Some of these members were born in Central America but were raised in Los Angeles, California.

The way Barrio 18 members carried themselves, the mannerisms and codes of conduct were heavily influenced by the gangs in Los Angeles. This created a sense of magnetism that many Central American youth gravitated towards.[7] For Central American youth, these gang members represented a window into the streets of Los Angeles and a culture that had created its own dress, words, and music. For countless Central American youth “the gang was everything: their family, their only source of companionship and unfortunately, their moral code” as many of their parents left to the US in search of work.[8]

It is important to note that most Barrio 18 members in Central America are born and raised in Central America. However, it is the earlier members who experienced the deportation and the sense of not belonging, that recruited and began to expand Barrio 18’s membership.[9] It was not solely Barrio 18 that began to recruit members, in a similar manner Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) also took part in recruitment efforts. MS-13 members experienced the same dynamics Barrio 18 members had to deal with. As rivals the gangs’ animosities carried over to Central America and as both gangs began to enlarge in numbers and influence, they began to supersede local gangs in Central America. For example, in El Salvador Barrio 18 made alliances with the Mao Mao and La Máquina which are now significantly weaker compared to Barrio 18 and MS-13.[10] As of now Barrio 18 and MS-13 are the most powerful and largest gangs in Central America.

In response, Central American governments proceeded to try to stamp out Barrio 18 and other gangs. Dr. José Miguel Cruz, professor, and director of Florida International University's Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, provides a helpful description of the Central American government's response and its impact on gangs.

These anti-gang programs were accompanied by an official narrative that justified the use of excessive force. They extended the scope of police powers, increased the severity of sentences, and unleashed massive security operations. They led to substantial changes in gang dynamics and operations. By 2007, gangs had evolved into more cohesive and powerful organizations, with the capability to control vast territories and urban communities in El Salvador and Honduras.[11]

In short, counter gang strategies by these governments led to a more hierarchical and tightly knit gang as it engaged in “competitive adaptation” with these governments.[12] In this instance, “competitive adaptation” refers to the ability of Barrio 18 to adjust to the policies, operations, and other tools that Central American governments have implemented to curtail the gang.

Furthermore, the 18th Street members who landed in El Salvador arrived in a country that had experienced civil war during the 1980s. The civil war was fought between the Salvadoran government and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front – FMLN). A Peace Accord was signed by both sides in 1992, leading to a return of some Salvadorans who had fled the war, including 18th Street members who were deported.[13] The 18th Street members who arrived in El Salvador were placed in a country recovering from a civil war. Salvadoran society witnessed atrocious acts of violence throughout the civil war by both the rebels and the government. In the aftermath of the civil war, El Salvador was “roiled by post-war political upheaval… [,] mired in economic stagnation,”[14] and weapons were easily accessible. This environment benefitted the expansion of 18th Street into Barrio 18 in El Salvador.

During 2005, Barrio 18 in El Salvador splintered into two factions, the Revolucionarios (Revolutionaries) and the Sureños.[15] The division occurred due to clashes amongst members regarding how the gang should function and its parameters.[16] It is important to note that the splintering amongst Barrio 18 is specific to El Salvador. According to El Faro, an online newspaper that conducts investigative and in-depth journalism based in El Salvador, the rupture of Barrio 18 can be narrowed down into those that follow El Viejo Lin (Sureños) and those that pledge allegiance to Duke (Revolucionarios). El Viejo Lin and Duke are both members who were deported from Los Angeles. They were amongst the deportees who helped establish Barrio 18 in El Salvador. However, their rift began due to El Viejo Lin's attempt to force his way to the top, a perceived abandonment by some Barrio 18 members imprisoned in Mariona by El Viejo Lin’s faction, and the murder of El Cranky by other Barrio 18 members.[17] The combination of these factors divided Barrio 18, and now, Barrio 18’s two factions fight one another while continuing their conflict with MS-13. Again, this division within Barrio 18 is unique to El Salvador.

In March 2012, a truce began between Barrio 18 (Revolucionarios and Sureños) and MS-13. The truce was pushed by a former FMLN combatant Raúl Mijango and included incarcerated gang leaders of Barrio 18 and MS-13 and Catholic Bishop Fabio Colindres. It is important to underline that the Catholic church is a major non-governmental organization (NGO) and non-state actor throughout the globe, and in this instance, it is played a vital role of mediator to add some legitimacy to the truce. However, it begs the question, does having an NGO present in the negotiations alleviate some pressure on the government if the truce fails or from potential backlash from the population?

Within two weeks the gangs had agreed to truce and the government had agreed to move the leaders from their maximum security facilities to less secure facilities where they could again have regular cell phone contact with the hommies on the Street, improved family visiting conditions and conjugal visits, and other privileges that would allow them to move toward a more permanent truce.[18]

This truce amongst rivals led to a decreased rate of homicides, created trust amongst crucial negotiators from both gangs and the government, and provided an avenue for potential less aggressive approaches.[19] Conversely, via the truce, criminal activity equaled political capital; while the government is focused on upholding the truce both gangs were able to focus their energy and resources towards other criminal activities, and in the eyes of the Salvadoran population, this created mistrust of the government.[18] In May 2013, the truce ended as the:

Salvadoran Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of [David Munguía Payés] the public security minister—and the government's architect of the truce plan—18 months earlier was unconstitutional because the Constitution banned military officers from holding any position in citizen security institutions. Although the general was later reappointed as national defense minister, his removal from the citizen security office broke up the government's homogeneous policy and placed the truce in uncertainty. Soon after, the new minister of security took a critical posture against the truce asserting that negotiations were not a state strategy…[21]  

There were also rumors that during the truce, the gangs had strengthened and expanded their operations.[22]The government of El Salvador was attempting to save face as they had essentially negotiated with groups, they deem “terrorists.”[23] All these factors contributed to the end of the truce amongst Barrio 18 and MS-13, leading to a rise in homicides.

In Guatemala, deported 18th Street members entered a society that had experienced a civil war beginning in 1960 between the Guatemalan government and left-wing guerilla groups, ending in 1996 via peace accords.[24] According to Dr. Orlando J. Pérez, the civil war was "characterised by high levels of violence, much of it state-sponsored or institutional, the effects of which continue to manifest themselves in the country today."[25]  Also, before the US deported 18th Street members, Guatemala already had gangs. The gangs were composed of large numbers of youth with an average age of 14 years, who were territorial, and took part in fights and low-level crimes.[26] However, once Barrio 18 began to expand within the country, it became one of the most dominant, violent, and largest gangs, alongside its rival, MS-13.

In Honduras, 18th Street members were deported into a country that, although it had not experienced civil war, nonetheless, it was impacted by the "Cold War proxy wars that played out in the neighboring countries."[27] For example, the US used Honduras as a base for numerous operations throughout Central America. The Cold War dynamics coupled with natural disasters in the 1990s, rural underdevelopment, and urban overpopulation [28] created the circumstances that 18th Street members were deported into and benefitted the expansion of the gang to what it is now.

Corruption

State corruption has been a critical factor in enabling Barrio 18 to expand its influence inside and outside of prisons throughout Central America. For example, according to a report from El Faro, in El Salvador president Nayib Bukele’s administration had negotiating talks with “street gangs to keep homicide levels low” since October 2019, the report is based “on jailhouse intelligence reports, prison logbooks and interviews.”[29] To underline the increased levels of corruption, the above-mentioned report by El Faro lead to El Salvador’s Attorney General office investigating the report’s findings which were derailed by Bukele’s new legislative assembly. In this short-lived investigation, the prosecutors found evidence of negotiations with Barrio 18 and MS-13, as well as the removal and disappearance of logbooks and hard drives that held condemning information on the talks.[30]

Moreover, Guatemala has also experienced corruption. For instance, the Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala) conducted investigations against corrupt politicians, leading to the 2015 resignation of then president Otto Pérez Molina and his vice-president Roxana Baldetti.[31] More recently, the attorney general and the CICIG presented a request in August 2018 to remove president Jimmy Morales’ “presidential immunity in order to investigate his role in illicit campaign financing,” Morales then proceeded to not renew CICIG’s mandate causing the CICIG to cease investigations in September 2019.[32] The CICIG came to a permanent end on 3 September 2019.[33]

In Honduras, Juan Antonio (Tony) Hernández, a former congress member and the brother of president Juan Orlando Hernández was sentenced to life in prison in the US for drug trafficking.[34] President Hernández has been labeled a co-conspirator by federal prosecutors at the Southern District of New York, court documents state that Tony provided president Hernández with millions of dollars of “drug-derived bribes” between 2004–2019, including other former and current politicians from president Hernández’s Partido Nacional de Honduras(National Party of Honduras).[35] These charges include the “smuggling of at least a hundred and eighty-five thousand kilos of cocaine to the US” and allegations of accepting a one million dollar bribe on behalf of his brother president Hernández from Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán.[36]

These are a few examples of how high the corruption in Central American governments reaches. The corruption is also happening in the neighborhoods, streets, and communities where Barrio 18 and MS-13 operate and live. According to Jonathan D. Rosen corruption assists “gangs and organized crime groups thrive” as they infiltrate and manipulate the “state apparatus.”[37] This infiltration and manipulation goes both ways. Barrio 18 and MS-13 use the government and its forces for their benefit while corrupt politicians and officials do the same.

Violence

Barrio 18 sets itself apart from its counterparts in the United States with increased levels of violence. The levels of violence that Barrio 18 has used in Central America entails a higher level of brutality. Dr. Pamela Ruiz, a Central American gang expert, made an important point in an interview, stating that members of Barrio 18 see the act of killing someone via gunshots as child's play; Barrio 18 members believe it takes a "real man" to stab and dismember a victim's body.[38] This kind of violence is uncommon within the US faction of 18thStreet. The same understanding can be drawn from a documentary by El Faro titled "Imperdonable" (Unforgivable), in which a Barrio 18 member describes how they stabbed, cut open, and pulled out the organs of a victim and proceeded to pull the victim's heart out and eat parts of it.[39] It is critical to note that not all the murders in Central America are carried out in this manner. The use of bullets and guns is still an effective way of killing someone and remains the primary method. However, the level of violence and dehumanization of Barrio 18's victims is how the gang shows their power, brutality, hatred, and masculinity which are essential and acceptable within the gang.

Barrio 18 uses acts of violence to seek, what Peter Reuter calls, "reputation enhancement" via the brutality of such acts.[40] This can also be understood through Dr. Angélica Durán-Martínez's concept of the "visibility of violence," which refers to the public exposure of violence or claiming responsibility for an attack.[41] Barrio 18 showcases its level of brutality and violence to garner fear amongst the general population, security forces, and rival gangs. The map below in Figure 1 was produced by Nathan P. Jones based on the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) and it provides an understanding of Barrio 18 battles in Central American that led to fatalities between January 2018 and September 2021.[42] The map showcases Barrio 18’s brutality and allows us to see where they are most active.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Barrio 18 Battles in the Northern Triangle.

The following map in Figure 2 was also produced by Nathan P. Jones using ACLED data and showcases the violence perpetuated by Barrio 18 against non-gang members that led to fatalities in Central American from January 2018 to September 2021.[43]

Figure 2

Figure 2. Barrio 18 Violence Against Non-Combatants in the Northern Triangle.

Ostracization from Central American Society

Barrio 18 in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras is viewed as a disease amongst Central American society. Barrio 18 and other gangs such as MS-13 are treated as "others" by the Central American government. This dynamic has morphed Barrio 18 into a group that focuses on survival and, in essence, its members "live and breathe" for the gang. Their counterparts in the United States have a different dynamic, in which loyalty for the gang is pushed and yearned, but members are able to hold a legitimate full-time job while still being active members of the gang. In the United States, 18th Street members also partake in illicit activity such as kidnappings, murders, and the sale of narcotics. In Central America, Barrio 18 also participates in these illicit activities, but its members take it a step further and extort bus drivers, business owners, and people living with their self-proclaimed territory. Barrio 18 members, for the most part, survive via earnings from illicit gang activities.

In Central American society, the gang member, marero, or pandillero all hold a place of the "other." Society does not consider them members of the general population; they are in their own category. Such societal separation has led to Barrio 18 members being ostracized and viewed as menaces to society. For example, in El Salvador and Honduras, governments have declared Barrio 18 and other gangs as terrorists or penalize “their crimes as terrorist acts.”[44] This, in turn, makes an exit from gang life more difficult. It also suggests strategies for ending these "crime wars."[45] Most successful counterinsurgency operations include some element of amnesty and rehabilitation so that insurgents can reenter society.[46] If gang members continue to feel ostracized and governments and societies fail to provide exit opportunities, this will lead to a continuous cycle of violence. Without incentivizing an exit strategy for gang members, they are incentivized to keep fighting and refuse negotiation. Throughout Central America gang members are not only fighting the government and its forces but in many instances society itself. If the “underlying structural root causes of the gang problem” continue, specifically “marginalization and socio-political exclusion,” there will be no sustainable solution.[47]

Conclusion

This article outlined the dynamics Barrio 18 has evolved through, state corruption, violence, and the marginalization of gang members in Central American society. Barrio 18 members were deported into their respective Central American countries, growing in memberships and influence. As the gang grew, it developed and adapted to local conditions creating its identity. In doing so, Barrio 18 has had to deal with corruption, which has hindered and benefitted their members and operations. The violence perpetrated by Barrio 18 in Central America has reached levels and magnitude distinct from its US counterparts. Lastly, the ostracization of gang members in Central America has only exacerbated issues within the government responses to Barrio 18 and within Barrio 18 itself. Barrio 18 has morphed into its current state via the influence of US deportation policies, changing of environments, corruption, violence, and othering by Central American states and societies.

Endnotes

[1] Clare Ribando Seelke, “Gangs in Central America.” Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. 29 August 2016: p. 3, https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/RL34112.pdf.

[2] Anibal Serrano, “Eighteenth Street: The Origins of ‘Barrio 18.’” Small Wars Journal. 30 August 2020, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/eighteenth-street-origins-barrio-18.

[3] Ibid.

[4] John P. Sullivan, “Maras Morphing: Revisiting Third Generation Gangs.” Global Crime Vol. 7, no. 3–4. August 2006: pp. 493–94, https://doi.org/10.1080/17440570601101623.

[5] For background on how Barrio 18 see Anibal Serrano, Op. cit. at Note 2. Gangs that operate on both the street and in prisons are ‘prison-street gang complexes’, see John P. Sullivan. “The Challenges of Territorial gangs: Civil Strife, Criminal Insurgencies and Crime Wars.” Revista do Ministério Público Militar (Brazil). Edição n. 31, November 2019: p, 17, https://www.academia.edu/40917684/The_Challenges_of_Territorial_Gangs_Civil_Strife_Criminal_Insurgencies_and_Crime_Wars.

[6] Ana Arana, “How the Street Gangs Took Central America.” Foreign Affairs. Vol. 84, no. 3. 2005: pp. 100–101, https://doi.org/10.2307/20034353.

[7] Carlos Martínez and José Luis Sanz, “El Juego Del Parque Libertad.” El Faro. 17 October 2011,https://salanegra.elfaro.net/es/201110/cronicas/5650/El-juego-del-parque-Libertad.htm.

[8] Ricardo Pollack, “Deadly Homeboys Make a New Home in El Salvador.” Los Angeles Times. 11 July 2006, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2006-jul-11-oe-pollack11-story.html.

[9] Steven Dudley, “Transnational Crime in Mexico and Central America: Its Evolution and Role in International Migration.” Migration Policy Institute. November 2012: p. 8, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/publication/transnational_crime_mexico_centralamerica.pdf.

[10] Op. cit. Carlos Martínez and José Luis Sanz at Note 7.

[11] José Miguel Cruz, “The Root Causes of the Central American Crisis.” Current History. Vol. 114, no. 769. 01 February 2015: p. 46, https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.2015.114.769.43.

[12] Michael Kenney, "From Pablo to Osama: Trafficking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007: pp. 6–7, 104–5.

[13] Orlando J. Pérez, “Gang Violence and Insecurity in Contemporary Central America: Gang Violence.” Journal of the Society for Latin American Studies. Vol. 32, no.s1. 08 November 2013: pp. 227–28, https://doi.org/10.1111/blar.12114.

[14] “Life Under Gang Rule in El Salvador.” International Crisis Group. 26 November 2018: p. 9, https://www.crisisgroup.org/latin-america-caribbean/central-america/el-salvador/life-under-gang-rule-el-salvador.

[15] “Barrio 18.” InSight Crime. 27 March 2017, https://www.insightcrime.org/el-salvador-organized-crime-news/barrio-18-profile-2/.

[16] Interview with Dr. Pamela Ruiz. interview by Anibal Serrano, 22 July 2021.

[17] Carlos Martínez and José Luis Sanz, “Todas Las Muertes Del Cranky.” El Faro. 13 October 2011, http://www.salanegra.elfaro.net/es/201110/cronicas/5645/Todas-las-muertes-del-Cranky.htm; José Luis Sanz and Carlos Martínez, “El Imperio de Lin.” El Faro. 20 October 2011, https://salanegra.elfaro.net/es/201110/cronicas/5651/El-imperio-de-Lin.htm; José Luis Sanz and Carlos Martínez, “La Revolución En Mariona.” El Faro. 25 October 2011, http://www.salanegra.elfaro.net/es/201110/cronicas/5917/La-Revoluci%C3%B3n-en-Mariona.htm.

[18] Douglas Farah and Pamela Phillips Lum, “Central American Gangs and Transnational Criminal Organizations: The Changing Relationships in a Time of Turmoil,” IBI Consultants. February 2013: p. 24, https://www.ibiconsultants.net/_pdf/central-american-gangs-and-transnational-criminal-organizations-update-for-publication.pdf.

[19] Steven Dudley, “El Salvador’s Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives.” InSight Crime. 2013: pp. 3–4, https://www.insightcrime.org/images/PDFs/2016/El_Salvador_Gang_Truce_Positives_and_Negatives.pdf.

[20] Ibid, p. 4–5.

[21] José Miguel Cruz and Angélica Durán-Martínez, “Hiding Violence to Deal with the State: Criminal Pacts in El Salvador and Medellin.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 53, no. 2. March 2016: p. 207, https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343315626239.

[22] Tracy Wilkinson, “After Broken Gang Truce, El Salvador Sees Deadliest Month in 10 Years.” Los Angeles Times. 18 April 2015, https://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-el-salvador-gangs-20150418-story.html.

[23] Pamela Ruiz, “Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18: Gangs, Terrorists, or Political Manipulation?” Small Wars Journal. 01 October 2020, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/mara-salvatrucha-ms-13-and-barrio-18-gangs-terrorists-or-political-manipulation.

[24] “Gangs in Guatemala: Historical Background.” Central American Gang-Related Asylum: A Resource Guide. Washington, DC: Washington Office on Latin America. May 2008: pp. 1, https://www.wola.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/CA-Gang-Related-Asylum.pdf.

[25] Op. cit. Orlando Pérez at Note 13, p. 230.

[26] Op. cit. Gangs in Guatemala: Historical Background at Note 24, p. 1.

[27] “Gangs in Honduras: Historical Background.” Central American Gang-Related Asylum: A Resource Guide. Washington, DC: Washington Office on Latin America. May 2008: pp. 1, https://www.wola.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/CA-Gang-Related-Asylum.pdf.

[28] Ibid, p. 2.

[29] Steven Dudley, “3 Dirty Secrets Revealed by the El Salvador Gang ‘Negotiations’.” InSight Crime. 04 September 2020, https://insightcrime.org/news/analysis/secrets-el-salvador-gang-negotiations/.

[30] Carlos Martínez, Gabriela Cáceres, and Óscar Martínez, “Criminal Investigation Found the Bukele Administration Hid Evidence of Negotiations with Gangs.” El Faro. 23 August 2021, https://elfaro.net/en/202108/el_salvador/25670/Criminal-Investigation-Found-the-Bukele-Administration-Hid-Evidence-of-Negotiations-with-Gangs.htm.

[31] “Guatemala Profile.” InSight Crime. 28 February 2021, https://insightcrime.org/guatemala-organized-crime-news/guatemala/.

[32] “Guatemala: Events of 2019.” Human Rights Watch. 06 December 2019, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/guatemala.

[33] “Informe final de labores de la CICIG: El legado de justicia en Guatemala.” Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala. 20 August 2019, https://www.cicig.org/cicig/informes_cicig/informe-de-labores/informe-final-de-labores/.

[34] Jonathan D. Rosen, “Corruption, Crime, And Gangs in Central America: Understanding the Root Causes.” Small Wars Journal. 25 October 2021, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/corruption-crime-and-gangs-central-america-understanding-root-causes.

[35] Parker Asmann and Alex Papadovassilakis, “Honduras President’s Alleged Role in Drug Conspiracy Comes Into Focus.” InSight Crime. 23 March 2021, https://insightcrime.org/news/honduras-president-drug-conspiracy/.

[36] Jon Lee Anderson, “Is the President of Honduras a Narco-Trafficker?.” The New Yorker. 08 November 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/15/is-the-president-of-honduras-a-narco-trafficker?utm_term=audiocta&utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Magazine_Daily_NonSubs_110821&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=6067245d9e20e74eb3247043&cndid=66054067&esrc=.

[37] Op. cit. Jonathan D. Rosen at Note 34.

[38] Op. cit. Pamela Ruiz at Note 16.

[39] Marlén Viñayo, "Imperdonable." El Faro. 2021, https://elfaro.net/es/202102/el_salvador/25190/El-Faro-estrena-el-multipremiado-documental-Imperdonable-a-partir-del-5-de-febrero.htm.

[40] Peter Reuter, “Systemic Violence in Drug Markets.” Crime, Law and Social Change. Vol. 52, no. 3. September 2009: p. 279, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-009-9197-x.

[41] Angélica Durán-Martínez, The Politics of Drug Violence: Criminals, Cops, and Politicians in Colombia and Mexico. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018: pp. 2, 26.

[42] Nathan P. Jones. “Barrio-18 Battles in the Northern Triangle with Sum Fatalities between January 2018 and September 2021.” Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). 2021, https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/nathan.jones4551/viz/Barrio18NorthernTriangle/Sheet1; Clionadh Raleigh, Andrew Linke, Håvard Hegre and Joakim Karlsen, “Introducing ACLED–Armed Conflict Location and Event Data.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 47, no. 5. 2010: pp. 651-660, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/20798933.pdf.

[43] Nathan P. Jones. “Barrio-18 Violence Against Non-Combatants in the Northern Triangle with Sum Fatalities between January 2018 and September 2021.” Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project(ACLED). 2021, https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/nathan.jones4551/viz/Barrio18NorthernTriangle/Sheet2; Clionadh Raleigh, Andrew Linke, Håvard Hegre and Joakim Karlsen, “Introducing ACLED-Armed Conflict Location and Event Data.” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 47, no. 5. 2010: pp. 651-660, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/20798933.pdf.

[44] Op. cit. Pamela Ruiz at Note 23.

[45] Robert Muggah and John P. Sullivan, “The Coming Crime Wars.” Foreign Policy. 21 September 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/21/the-coming-crime-wars/.

[46] Kalev I. Sepp, “Best Practices in Counterinsurgency.” Military Review. May-June 2005: pp. 8–12,available at https://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/sepp.pdf.

[47] Markus-Michael Müller, “Securitization and the transnational governing of Central American gangs,” in David C. Brotherton and Rafael Jose Gude, Eds., Routledge International Handbook on Critical Gang Studies. New York: Routledge, 2021: p. 206.

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Anibal Serrano is a 2020-2021 American Political Science Association (APSA) Minority Fellow who graduated from California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) with his M.A. in National Security Studies. While at CSUSB, he was also a 2018-2019 CSU Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar. Before that, he earned his B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History from CSU Los Angeles. Anibal's research lies at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics, particularly political violence, peace, and security. As a 2019 visiting student at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Anibal reviewed some of international relations' most dominant theories to examine how they understand and explain violent non-state actors (VNSAs). He also developed a categorization of VNSAs to further comprehend their nuances and complexities. Anibal looks forward to continuing his research on how nation-states understand and cope with violent non-state actors and their impacts on international, national, and human security. He has presented and published his work in various venues and hopes to become a faculty member. Anibal began his studies towards the PhD in Political Science at UCI in Fall 2020. Anibal was a SWJ–El Centro Intern for 2021-2022.

Comments

gibsonsantiago

Fri, 12/10/2021 - 10:01am

In parallel with increasing strength in American prisons, Barrio 18 also expanded into Mexico and Central America in the context of many criminals being deported back home by US authorities. Some countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have witnessed a fierce jigsaw puzzle confrontation between Barrio 18 and MS-13. Despite the declining murder rate, the criminal gangs still make El Salvador one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Suppressed, many gang members turned to neighboring countries such as Guatemala and Honduras.