On his recent trip to El Salvador, President Barack Obama said the United States will continue to support El Salvador's efforts to keep its citizens safe. Through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, the U.S. is working with El Salvador and the nations of the region to disrupt the activities of transnational gangs, interdict the northward flow of narcotics and prevent the flow of weapons and illicit proceeds from the United States to criminal organizations in El Salvador and the region.
The United States and El Salvador are partnering to identify, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal gangs that operate in El Salvador, with emphasis on the MS-13 and 18th Street Gangs. Through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, the U.S. Agency for International Development is implementing gang prevention programs in marginalized urban areas within El Salvador. They focus on prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation. Activities are providing at-risk youth with basic or secondary education, vocational training, and job opportunities; strengthening the role of local government officials in organizing resources to improve security; improving collaboration between the police and citizens and facilitating community participation in crime prevention and detection.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF, is helping El Salvador and other Central American countries to trace, investigate and interdict firearms entering their countries illegally. The ATF has trained Salvadoran law enforcement personnel in the use of the U.S. Spanish language e-trace application. E-trace is a web-based system that allows Salvadoran investigators to trace firearms seized in connection with crimes and to develop intelligence on firearms trafficking operations that can be used to identify and disrupt the sources of illegal firearms.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, is providing technical assistance, training, and equipment that will help Salvadoran law enforcement, customs, and immigration authorities to disrupt the movement of contraband and criminals across El Salvador's borders. DHS is also providing hands-on-training to Salvadoran law enforcement partners specifically for indentifying and targeting bulk cash smuggling. Moreover, the Drug Enforcement Administration supports El Salvador's efforts to dismantle domestic and transnational narcotics trafficking rings.
President Obama said the partnerships being forged between the U.S. and El Salvador "are exactly what's needed in the Americas today – neighbors joining with neighbors to realize progress that none of us can achieve alone. Every nation, no matter how large or how small, can contribute to that progress. ... El Salvador can be a source of great prosperity and security for this region for many years to come."