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MS13’s Crooked Finances Brought to Light

MS13 is quickly becoming known throughout the Americas. The group is known by Security Services El Salvador for its violent behavior and is thought to be on the verge of gaining much more ground than they have previously enjoyed. One recent discovery in El Salvador can be seen as proof that MS13 is gearing up for something new.

One woman, who is known to be a member of MS13, was recently arrested in San Sebastián. Emerging from the arrest came several ledgers that show very clearly the financial dealings of the MS13 gang. The ledgers show how money is acquired and how it was spent over the course of one month, and looking at these records leads to insight into the priorities, and perhaps future plans, of the group.

The records showed that the primary source of income for the large group was extorted from local business owners. Of all the income reported on the ledgers, extortion made up for most of it, but still only added up to about $3,000. This is a relatively small amount of money for a group of this size, but these ledgers may only show a part of the story. What’s more enlightening is the way the group spent the money.

There are two important aspects of these documents that Security Services El Salvador are following very closely. One is that of the $3,000, a third of it was spent on ammunition and weaponry. This means that the group might be gearing up for a fight in the near future which, given MS13’s track record, would be a very violent war. The other important aspect to consider is the fact that the rest of the money was spent to maintain the infrastructure of the group, similar to the way a business might. Both of these aspects of the group’s money management practices point to a worrying increase in organization and planning.

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