Rapid Evolution of the MS 13 in El Salvador and Honduras from Gang to Tier-One Threat to Central America and U.S. Security Interests [open pdf - 4MB]
From the Introduction and General Framework: "This study focuses on the MS 13 [Mara Salvatrucha] in Honduras and El Salvador, where it represents an existential threat to the viability of the state. In both countries, the gang has achieved new levels of power and sophistication, via increased revenues from its control of multiple steps in the cocaine supply chain. Now, the MS 13 is not solely involved in transporting cocaine; it also unloads shipments arriving by air from Venezuela and in Honduras runs laboratories that transform coca paste - mostly from Colombia - to hydrochloric acid (HCl). [...] In order to successfully meet this challenge from the next generation MS 13, the United States and its limited number of reliable allies in the region must adopt a new and different strategy that treats the organization as a fully functional transnational organized crime (TOC) group with increasingly strong political components."
William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies: https://www.williamjperrycenter.org/