"Congress has maintained an interest in the effects of gang violence in Central America, and on the expanding activities of transnational gangs with ties to that region operating in the United States. Since FY2008, Congress has appropriated significant amounts of funding for anti-gang efforts in Central America, as well as domestic anti-gang programs. Two recent developments may affect congressional interest in Central American gangs: a truce between rival gangs has dramatically lowered violence in El Salvador and the U.S. Treasury Department has designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a significant transnational criminal organization (TCO). […] In recent years, Congress has increased funding to support anti-gang efforts in Central America. Between FY2008 and FY2012, Congress appropriated roughly $35 million in global International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds for anti-gang efforts in Central America. Congress provided additional support in FY2008 and FY2009 for anti-gang efforts in the region through the Mérida Initiative, a counterdrug and anticrime program for Mexico and Central America, and, more recently, through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). Congressional oversight may focus on the efficacy of anti-gang efforts in Central America; the interaction between U.S. domestic and international anti-gang policies, and the impact of the Treasury Department's TCO designation on law enforcement efforts against MS-13. This report describes the gang problem in Central America, discusses country and regional approaches to deal with the gangs, and analyzes U.S. policy with respect to gangs in Central America."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34112