In other Northern Triangle countries, the Zetas have been more accomodating to local gangs, although no less ambitious in expanding their operations. As recently noted by El Salvador President Mauricio Funes, the Zetas have made contact with gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 (18), which echoes statements made by the president and the defense minister in 2010.
In El Salvador, the Zetas use gangs as drug peddlers and hired assasins, not for the purpose of trafficking cocaine via international routes. However, there is evidence that MS-13 is interested in deepening their relationship with the Zetas, with some cells reportedly soliciting training in combat from the Mexicans.
Like Guatemala, where the Zetas have recruited from the army's special forces unit, the Kaibiles, the Mexican group has also reportedly attempted to recruit members of the security forces in El Salvador, according to officials. In July 2010, a former Salvadorean police officer was killed in a shootout with the Mexican army in Nuevo Leon, one of nine police agents who may have found work with the Zetas in Mexico, reports El Salvadorean paper El Diario de Hoy.