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The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.


Despite a consistent drop in homicides over the past several years, El Salvador’s murder rate remains high. Public perception of insecurity remains high, and ongoing gang violence, widespread extortion, and a lack of economic opportunity continue to drive irregular migration from El Salvador to the United States. El Salvador lacks sufficient law enforcement and public/private resources to mitigate youth joining criminal activities and improve police-community relations. The penitentiary system is in need of reform to improve living and operating conditions and to reduce the power of gangs, especially as prison populations exceed more than double their capacity. The Salvadoran justice system (courts, prosecutors, and judges) needs technical assistance and training to enhance its capacity to dismantle transnational crime.


INL assistance supports the security and governance priorities of the U.S. Strategy for Central America and the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). INL partners with the Salvadoran government to build capacity to counter gangs, disrupt smugglers, and directly address security-related drivers of migration, reducing the incentives for irregular migration to the United States.

INL programs build the capacity of the Government of El Salvador to improve its ability to mitigate the influence of gangs, improve citizen security, and combat corruption. Programs build the capacity of the justice sector to assist the courts, prosecutors and judges; build corrections management systems that process individuals efficiently, securely, and humanely; and provide training, mentoring, and technical assistance to help develop a more professional and capable police force.


· Through support to the Salvadoran police and prosecutors via vetted units, INL helped facilitate a U.S. interagency law enforcement effort to dismantle MS-13 cells across the Northern Triangle countries and the United States, resulting in the arrest of over 1,800 gang members in El Salvador. Through Youth Gang Prevention Programs, both the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) program and the Police Athletic League (PAL) program, INL served 19,495 youth across all 19 police delegations in El Salvador.

· Through border security programs, INL helped identify 2,195 subjects with criminal histories, among them 628 gang members not previously known to U.S. law enforcement, seeking to enter the United States or residing in U.S. jurisdictions. This led to the arrest of 87 individuals in the United States. In recent years, El Salvador made notable strides to combat corruption and impunity, including by indicting three former presidents on corruption charges.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future