Mara Salvatrucha gangs seek to create an alliance

The government of El Salvador identified Paolo Lüers, a German journalist, and Raúl Mijango, former guerrilla, as the brains behind the unification of the gangs.

The Mara Salvatrucha MS-13 and M-18 gangs are negotiating an alliance to create the Mara 503. (Photo: EFE)
English 12/08/2015 11:18 José Meléndez / corresponsal Actualizada 11:28

The violent world of gangs that afflicts El Salvador could suffer a major transformation in its meticulous structure that could reach Guatemala and Honduras, the Salvadoran government said.

Due to the growing insecurity and violence crisis in El Salvador and given the renewed military and police response, the Mara Salvatrucha MS-13 and M-18 gangs are negotiating an alliance to create the Mara 503. (The number corresponds to the international area code of El Salvador).

The alliance would enable the gangs to join forces in order to improve their attack capacity and coordinate their operations.

Yesterday the government of El Salvador identified two Salvadorans: Paolo Lüers, a German journalist who writes a column for Diario de Hoy of San Salvador, and Raúl Mijango, former guerrilla and negotiator of a truce by the maras from March 2012 to May 2013, as the "brains" behind the unification of the maras, that in recent months intensified their clashes with soldiers and police.

Yesterday Eugenio Chicas, Press Secretary of the Presidency of El Salvador, said that "there is a strong suspicion" that Mijango and Lüers "are seeking the unification of the gangs."

Both Lüers and Mijango were members of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a umbrella group formed in 1980 from five leftist guerilla organizations. Consulted by EL UNIVERSAL, Mijango rejected the accusations while Lüers could not be contacted.

"The government seeks scapegoats to justify its failure, because it has been unable to stop the problem that it inherited and multiplied" Mijango argued, insisting that the way to combat the rampant violence is dialogue.

On the unification of the maras, Mijango said: "It's a process. Some gangs are discussing to become a federated group in order to better wage the war against the state. But that is rather a natural consequence of the state actions against them."

Central American police sources told EL UNIVERSAL that since the head of the maras of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras is in El Salvador, the unification project could be emulated by the gangs from the other two countries.

From January to August 10 this year there were 3,577 murders in El Salvador, compared with a total of 3,912 last year and 2,191 in the first seven months of 2014.

(With information from DPA)