• El Salvador

    Overview of drug laws and legislative trends in El Salvador


    As a result of a truce between the country’s main gangs (Maras), the number of murders in El Salvador so far in 2013 is down by about 45 per cent in comparison to the year before. Since El Salvador is one of the countries with the highest murder rates in the world (71 per 100,000 people in 2011), the truce represents a step forward in the eradication of street violence and, some believe, in the fight against the retail drug trade and trafficking. The country is one of the locations for the transport and storage of drugs, mainly cocaine. These shipments come from the producer countries on their way to Mexico and the United States. El Salvador has not come out in support of the initiative proposed by the President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina, to discuss the possibility of regulating the drugs market. The law recognises possession for personal use, but it is punishable by a prison sentence.


    The law regulating drug-related activities is one of the most recent in this region of Latin America. It was reformed in December 2003 by Decree N° 215. This modified Article 34 and established the quantity of 2 grams to differentiate between possession for use and drug trafficking – a stipulation applicable to all types of drugs. It also reduced the relevant sentences, but without lifting the classification as a crime. Three additional paragraphs dealing with the subject of possession were added to the same Article 34 in 2004. Finally, in 2006 alterations were made to Article 63.3 with regard to the destruction of drugs confiscated by the courts and Article 68.3 on the victims and witnesses programme.