MS-13

Honduran government freezes more than US$2.2 million in Mara Salvatrucha accounts

Honduran authorities rolled out Operation Avalancha 2 against the Mara Salvatrucha (MS) over three days starting on 17 October 2016, which included raids, seizures of property and freezing bank accounts amounting to US$2.2 million (La Prensa). According to authorities, the money allegedly belongs to members and associates of the Mara Salvatrucha and the accounts were in a variety of banks, cooperatives, and financial institutions (La Prensa). Aside from the frozen accounts, authorities conducted 60 raids and seized over 1,500 items of property, including 1,434 vehicles, 107 residences, and 18 business corporations according to El Heraldo. During the operation, authorities captured former police connected to the MS, Roberto Armando Carranza Romero, alias Carranza, and Héctor Jacinto Mendoza Gonzáles, alias Camuma. Both men are tied to the assassination of two attorneys, Marlene Banegas and Olga Eufragio (El Heraldo).

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).