According to widely reported figures, approximately 60,000 gang members are present in at least 247 of the country’s 262 municipalities.
They enforce their territories’ borders and extort and gather intelligence on residents and those transiting these areas, particularly around public transport, schools, and markets.
In August 2017, the Legislative Assembly prohibited marriage below the age of 18 in all circumstances, ending an exception for pregnant girls.
Since 1998, abortion is illegal under all circumstances.
El Salvador has one of the world’s highest homicide rates.
Gangs continued in 2018 to exercise territorial control and extort residents in municipalities throughout the country.
They forcibly recruit children and subject some women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals to sexual slavery.
Gangs kill, disappear, rape, or displace those who resist them, including government officials, security forces, and journalists.
In April 2016, the Legislative Assembly modified an existing counterterrorism statute to explicitly classify gangs as terrorist organizations and reformed its penal code to impose prison sentences of up to 15 years on anyone who “solicits, demands, offers, promotes, formulates, negotiates, convenes or enters into a non-persecution agreement” with gangs.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings noted a large discrepancy between charges for membership in a terrorist organization and convictions for it.