San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

El Salvador homicides decrease over 40 percent in 2012

SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador’s National Civil Police (PNC) registered 2,576 murders in 2012, which represents a 41 percent fall compared to the 2011 figure of 4,371 homicides, daily La Prensa Gráfica reported.

A controversial gang truce has led to a dramatic drop in homicides in one of the world’s most dangerous nations, a trend that may well continue if the war between gangs or Maras can be brought to a permanent close, InSight Crime Foundation stated in an analysis of the report.

National Police Sub-Director Mauricio Ramírez pointed to the gang truce between Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 as being one of the key factors in bringing down the number of murders. The truce, which lead to a cessation of hostilities between the two gangs, was brokered in March 2012. 

During 2012, El Salvador recorded days without a single homicide, something unheard of in a nation with a 2011 murder rate of over 65 per 100,000 of the population. “This makes 2012 the first time in 30 years this has happened,” Security and Justice Minister, David Munguia Payes, declared.

In late November, just days after being appointed to the post, Munguía pledged to reduce homicides by 30 percent and the decrease was even higher (41 percent), comparing the overall figures between 2012 and 2011.

Most crimes occurred in the Metropolitan Area of ​​San Salvador (744) and the West Area (537) according to PNC figures. “The majority of homicide victims were between 18 and 30 years of age, while firearms were used in 63 percent of killings,” stated La Prensa Gráfica.

Last October the United States declared MS-13 one of the world’s most dangerous criminal groups, and launched a campaign to lock down its financial resources. The U.S. government also banned U.S. citizens from doing business with the group.

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