Last week, Salvadoran prison officials transferred around 30 imprisoned leaders (link in Spanish) of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 from maximum security institutions to prisons with more relaxed rules on visitors. Following that, cells of both gangs around the country were told to keep their violent activities to a minimum, according to El Faro's sources. El Faro spoke to one gang leader, who confirmed the story. As the authors write:
“El Muchacho” received a call on his cell phone on Friday morning. The call came from the prison in Ciudad Barrios and the voice on the telephone explained the new policies of the MS-13: jailed leaders had decided that the gang needed to “calm down,” which in the group’s slang is the same as saying that killings and new extortion attempts would be prohibited until further notice.
El Muchacho is an individual with whom we had scheduled an interview in a San Salvador shopping mall. He is a boss, or “palabrero,” of a local MS-13 “clica” (band). Orders that come from prison are non-negotiable, so he called up his crew and relayed the message. “We’re on vacation,” he joked.