Some insights on gangs

Jen at El Salvador from the Inside has a recent post titled An Unexpected Lesson on Gangs where she describes a conversation about current gang culture in El Salvador.   Here's an excerpt:
Speaking of which, Damon mentioned that the pub we were sitting in, and pretty much “all” of them along this strip behind the Hotel Intercontinental, pay “rent” to the gangs. Except for one guy, he says. The guy who owns BILLY’S (pseudonym) doesn’t play around. He even hires local police to work for him as ‘vigilantes’ (private security guards), even though the practice is prohibited. He pays them well and no one stops him.

We talked about how gangs are becoming more sophisticated now. Damon says “You know what my profile is of a gang member, Now? It’s a kid with those tight (emo) style pants and spikey hair. He doesn’t have any tattoos, and you can’t tell he’s a gang member.” Here in this bar, that guy over there could be a gang member, or maybe he is” said Damon, gesturing to people around us. This is something that is becoming almost common knowledge for anyone who knows about Salvadoran gangs. As we march further into this millennium, gangs are becoming slicker; they are dropping the tradition of wearing tattoos, which has often worked against them. And they are actively infiltrating new demographics. My husband and I read reports of university kids that were busted for working in car-theft gangs. 
Read the rest here.  The gangs are a serious part of the murder rate in El Salvador which is again at record levels in 2011.