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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

El Salvador

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).


  • With U.S. assistance, the Government of El Salvador approved an asset forfeiture law. The United States will coordinate with the Salvadoran government to promote the expansion of asset forfeiture operations over the course of 2014. An anti-money laundering bill is also under consideration by El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly. Passage of strong legislation will enhance El Salvador’s capacity to sustaining more robust law enforcement programs and significantly reduce the need for foreign assistance.
  • The United States has collaborated with El Salvador since 2010 to establish a National Electronic Monitoring Center (NEMC), which began operations in June 2012. The center allows Salvadoran law enforcement with judicial warrants to intercept electronic communications in furtherance of investigations of drug trafficking transnational criminal organizations. NEMC operations in 2013 resulted in 82 arrests from10 separate investigations, including 32 members of the Texis Cartel drug trafficking organization.
  • In 2013, the United States trained and certified 18 PNC officers as full-time Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) instructors, enabling 9,000 at-risk youth to complete the gang resistance curriculum. The El Salvador-based training program has certified over 300 regional officers and trained more than 30,000 at-risk youth in Central America. U.S. experts also trained over 600 officers in Santa Ana in investigative techniques, collection and analysis, and community policing as part of model precinct initiatives.

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