Mara Salvatrucha begin to amass arms in response to government crackdown

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) in El Salvador is rolling out a multi-phase national plan in response to the government’s recent crackdown on gangs and criminals (ElSalvador.com, 11 October 2016). According to calls intercepted by the Attorney General’s (FGR) Centro de Intervención de Telecomunicaciones, the strategy consisted of figuring out the government’s intended security measures before they were introduced and analyze how these would effect street gangs. El Diario de Hoy identified a purported gang leader named Tío, who said in an intercepted call the government planned to enact extraordinary security measures when the homicide rates increased. Thus, street gangs like the MS-13, pandilla 18 Revolucionarios, and the Sureños needed to decrease homicides or hide and bury their victims. A second plan was created after authorities continued with its security plan and placed gang leaders in the Zacatecoluca maximum security prison. Referred to as the ‘Proyecto de la Mara o Familia’, extortion funds would be used to raise US$600,000 to buy 500 arms and create an elite unit to combat police and the armed forces. Diario de Hoy reported the MS had started Plan C by buying arms, hand grenades, grenade launchers and other weapons in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. Days after the publication of the intercepted phone calls, Guatemalan law enforcement detained Juan Francisco Parada Morán, the suspected "international leader for the MS-13 (La Prensa, 19 October 2016).