This document is Annex #3 to the principal USAID "Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment" report and covers the country of Honduras. "The Central American conflicts in the 1980s left deep scars throughout the region, including in Honduras. While not immersed in its own civil war, Honduras played host to the anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan Resistance fighters (Contras). During the 1980s, Honduras was considered a repressive society, and human rights abuses were a common occurrence. The signing of peace accords in the 1990s in neighboring countries signaled a turning point for the region, as economic reform and transitions to democracy became the dominant paradigm for development. […] The current level of youth violence in Honduras is among the worst in Central America. The gang phenomenon is considered by many as one of the biggest problems affecting Honduras. According to police statistics, at the end of 2003, there were 36,000 gang members in Honduras. Gangs established themselves in Tegucigalpa in the 1980s. MS-13 became prominent in Honduras in 1989; 18th Street became prominent in 1993. These two gangs are now well entrenched, particularly in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, where they are responsible for many crimes. Their real growth was not felt, however, until the 1990s, which coincided with legal and illegal migration to the United States and subsequent deportations back to Honduras. For many, however, immigration to the United States was not a dream come true. Instead of finding economic opportunities, many found gangs."
United States Agency for International Development: http://www.usaid.gov/