This thesis explores the recent decision by El Salvador’s Supreme Court to classify the street gangs Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 as terrorist organizations. El Salvador has a history of utilizing hard-line policies towards the country’s gangs. This thesis explores why these policies were implemented in the first place and why El Salvador continues to utilize these strategies despite a limited record of success. This thesis asks what are implications of the terrorist designation for gang members with respect to Salvadoran security? The research draws on El Salvador’s past episodes of conflict with insurgency movements such as various worker uprisings and the country’s civil war between the government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in order to give context to the government’s response to the gang threat. The thesis also presents a limited study of Mexico’s more organized drug trafficking organizations. Mexico and El Salvador are culturally and geographically similar and both have immediate threats from criminal networks. Comparing El Salvador’s gangs with Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations aids in contextualizing the Supreme Court’s decision to designate the gangs as terrorist organizations. I conclude that it is ineffectual to classify El Salvador’s gangs as terrorists as a mechanism to curb violence and restore order in El Salvador.