Roberto “El Burro” Herrera, one of three alleged founders of the Texis Cartel, is being retried for the 2012 theft of a Toyota Yaris, in another indication that authorities in El Salvador are trying to take down the group any way they can.
Herrera was acquitted of the same charge in November 2014, but is being retried as an alleged member of a transnational ring of car thieves that transported 13 stolen vehicles to Guatemala.
Just minutes before his hearing, Herrera claimed the Texis Cartel has never been caught trafficking drugs. When asked why he believes the government links him to an organization that moves cocaine across Central America, Herrera replied, “I can’t give references to something that doesn’t exist,” reported La Pagina.
According to La Pagina, Herrera cited the lack of involvement in shootings, absence of gold-plated firearms, and the dearth of high profile and gruesome killings that typify cartel activity in Mexico as reasons why there's no evidence of the Texis Cartel's existence.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the Texis Cartel obviously exists -- numerous intelligence reports have depicted a drug trafficking and money-laundering organization that operates with impunity by exploiting high-level contacts in the government -- Herrera’s statements do betray an element of truth about the organization. Instead of settling disagreements violently, the Texis Cartel mostly relies on bribery and corruption.
The Texis Cartel largely stayed out of the public eye until 2011, when Salvadoran newspaper El Faro reported on the group’s extensive ties to politicians and law enforcement, and profiled the three alleged founders: Herrera, hotel magnate Jose Salazar (alias “Chepe Diablo”), and Juan Umaña, the mayor of Metapan.
SEE ALSO: Texis Cartel News and Profile
In an effort to end the impunity shielding Texis Cartel leaders, authorities charged Salazar and Umaña with tax evasion in April 2014, although Salazar was released that August. One of the first successful convictions of an alleged associate of the Texis Cartel, businessman Leonel Sandoval was sentenced to four years in prison for arms possession.
While authorities are taking the “Al Capone” approach to bringing down the group by charging suspected leaders with crimes only tangentially related to drug trafficking and money laundering, they haven’t brought down the web of corrupt police and politicians that have allowed the Texis Cartel to operate freely for so many years.