Challenges: El Salvador continues to be a major transit country for illegal drugs headed to the United States from source countries in South America. El Salvadoran criminal networks provide protection for transiting drug shipments, weapons, and human trafficking through the country. Traffickers in El Salvador use “go-fast” boats and commercial vessels to smuggle illegal drugs along the coastline. Land transit primarily occurs along the Pan-American Highway, on buses and tractor-trailers. El Salvador was identified as a major transit country for the third year in a row in the President’s 2013 report to congress on Major Illicit Drug Producing and Drug Transit Countries.
The administration of President Mauricio Funes partnered with the United States on counternarcotics activities in 2013. The U.S.-El Salvador Partnership for Growth (PFG) agreement includes various programs to enhance law enforcement, promote judicial reform, reduce prison overcrowding, and divert at-risk youth from criminal activity. Salvadoran law enforcement agencies lack sufficient personnel, training, and equipment to effectively manage the country’s borders and interdict drug trafficking. There is a shortage of accurate information on the severity of drug trafficking and use through the country.
Goals: INL programs in El Salvador seek to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement to combat serious crimes such as drug trafficking, gangs, and money laundering; support justice sector reform, such as improving investigations and prosecutions; and address prison overcrowding and deficiencies in the corrections sector. The programs are carried out in accordance with the goals of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).