Combating Gangs and Criminality in Central America

The “Northern Triangle” region of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) has faced a shocking rise in gang activity following decades of civil war and political instability in the late 20th century.

Local authorities have lacked the resources to effectively deal with violent crime in the wake of these conflicts. It is estimated that 40 out of every 100,000 people were murdered in Honduras in 2018, and that 98% of cases of femicide and violence against women in the region went unpunished in 2016.

In response, JES worked closely with the regions’ justice institutions to help them combat gang activity. Our teams provided local authorities with capacity-building training courses and advanced equipment including crime scene examination, forensic video analysis, surveillance, wiretap, criminal analysis, and forensic information technology. We also facilitated regional evidence sharing of fingerprints and ballistics between forensic experts in Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

El Salvador
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July 2015 - September 2017

The impact of our efforts was profound. Notably, 593 individuals were arrested across the country in a massive raid in 2017. This widespread coordinated approach demonstrated improved inter-agency communication and capacity to handle complex cases.

  • 2,307 participants trained through training sessions and coaching
  • 120 local trainers were trained to deliver future JES courses
  • 13 deceased persons identified using new fingerprinting technology
  • 70 alleged members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang were arrested as a result of evidence found using JES-provided tools
  • Following JES training, the homicide unit in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala achieved a 90% resolution rate in 73 death investigations