This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

Government officers during a gang sweep in San Salvador, El Salvador, this year

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Government officers during a gang sweep in San Salvador, El Salvador, this year

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The Wall Street Journal


WHY ARE PEOPLE FLEEING CENTRAL AMERICA? A NEW BREED OF GANGS IS TAKING OVER


Text by Robbie Whelan


APOPA, El Salvador—The Congress of El Salvador agreed in April to extend the authority of jailers to keep gang leaders in solitary confinement. Over the next five days, the two reigning street gangs killed more than 100 people.

With the highest homicide rate of all countries in the world, El Salvador is a nation held hostage.

Law-enforcement officials estimate that one gang, MS-13, operates an extortion racket with little pressure from authorities in 248 of the 262 of the country’s municipalities. It battles for neighborhood control with another gang, Barrio 18, which runs its own protection scheme in nearly as many regions.


Read more here

This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

A law-enforcement officer checks the phone of a man suspected of working as a gang lookout during a police sweep this year in a neighborhood of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.

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A law-enforcement officer checks the phone of a man suspected of working as a gang lookout during a police sweep this year in a neighborhood of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde, El Salvador’s minister of justice and security.

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Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde, El Salvador’s minister of justice and security.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

Salvadorans recently deported from the U.S. exit a bus at a government center in San Salvador.

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Salvadorans recently deported from the U.S. exit a bus at a government center in San Salvador.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

José Gualberto Claro Iglesias, 48, sent his family out of El Salvador, fearing for their safety.

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José Gualberto Claro Iglesias, 48, sent his family out of El Salvador, fearing for their safety.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

A skull examined for homicide clues by authorities in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador and the world’s sixth deadliest city.

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A skull examined for homicide clues by authorities in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador and the world’s sixth deadliest city.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

René Del Cid, 25, had lived in the U.S. since 11 and was recently deported.

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René Del Cid, 25, had lived in the U.S. since 11 and was recently deported.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

Former gang member Manuel de Jesus.

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Former gang member Manuel de Jesus.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

Two bodies await an autopsy in April, part of a killing spree that followed the extension of a law making it easier to keep gang leaders in solitary confinement.

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Two bodies await an autopsy in April, part of a killing spree that followed the extension of a law making it easier to keep gang leaders in solitary confinement.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

The father of a young man found slain in Apopa, El Salvador, helped load the body into a coroner’s vehicle. Authorities believe the young man and a friend were fatally stabbed as they headed to play in a soccer game in April.

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The father of a young man found slain in Apopa, El Salvador, helped load the body into a coroner’s vehicle. Authorities believe the young man and a friend were fatally stabbed as they headed to play in a soccer game in April.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

The father of one of the two young men fatally stabbed in Apopa, El Salvador.

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The father of one of the two young men fatally stabbed in Apopa, El Salvador.

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This image/photograph is owned by Juan Carlos the photographer and is protected by copyright as well as all laws related to intellectual property rights. Unless permitted under written permission or licensed by Juan Carlos

The widow of Elmer Mauricio Beltrán. Mr. Beltrán, a police officer, was 43 when he was fatally shot in August.

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The widow of Elmer Mauricio Beltrán. Mr. Beltrán, a police officer, was 43 when he was fatally shot in August.

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