According to the authorities, 23 policemen and six members of the military have been killed by gangs this year. A total of 1,194 people were killed in El Salvador between January 1 to April 5, according to official estimates.
The recent uptick in killings underscores the breakdown in a truce the gangs declared in March 2012, which was brokered by the Catholic Church with behind-the-scenes help from then president Mauricio Funes.
In March, the government passed an anti-extortion law that, among other measures, forbids companies from supplying cellphone signals near jails. Under the new law, a phone company who breaks the law is subject to a fine of $753,000 per day of continued infraction.
Central America is a region rife with problems of inequality, political corruption, weak institutions, poverty, displaced and marginalized populations, and a history of violence. Two journalists who are part of a group of fellow scribes who spent several years looking at those issues and trying to understand them have compiled enough stories to turn them into a book.