HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Death Squad Suspects Freed, While Corrupt Cops Jailed
BRIEF

El Salvador Death Squad Suspects Freed, While Corrupt Cops Jailed

EL SALVADOR / 5 SEP 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

One group of police officers in El Salvador accused of running a death squad has been freed just as another group accused of trafficking illicit objects to inmates has been sent to prison, a seemingly stark illustration of how the government is dealing with suspected crimes by its security forces.

An El Salvador court has ordered that seven members of the country's National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil - PNC) remain in pretrial detention for trafficking illicit objects into jail cells, breach of duty and illicit association, El Mundo reported

The police officers allegedly charged inmates between $300 and $500 to smuggle cell phones, cell phone chips and marijuana into holding cells known as "bartolinas," which the police have for inmates awaiting trial, according to El Mundo. 

After removing the inmates from their cells for cleaning, the officers would allegedly put the contraband into the inmates' food bags. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

Meanwhile, another group of officers accused of committing extrajudicial executions of suspected gang members has been released, Revista Factum reported

An August report by Factum said that four members of an elite unit of El Salvador's PNC known as the Special Reaction Forces (Fuerza Especializada de Reacción - FES) committed at least three extrajudicial killings, two sexual assaults and extorted money while using social media networks like Facebook and WhatsApp to coordinate and discuss the illegal activities. 

On September 4, El Salvador Attorney General Douglas Meléndez told Factum that those accused had been released after the required 72 hours of administrative detention, and put on administrative leave to do "desk work," as one PNC official put it.

InSight Crime Analysis

While both investigations are still in their preliminary stages and final judgements have yet to be made, the cases illustrate a painful reality regarding police corruption: some crimes may be more acceptable than others. 

There's no question that El Salvador's gangs pose a serious security challenge to authorities. Attorney General Meléndez and his family recently reported receiving death threats and being ordered to leave the country. And El Salvador's police forces and their relatives have been increasingly targeted by the country's gangs.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Hesitant to Respond to Police Death Squad Allegations  

However, anti-gang death squads led by security forces and police corruption in general are also serious problems. How authorities handle the latest high-profile case, and police reform more broadly, is sure to have wide implications for the country going forward.

share icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 13 DEC 2011

Police in Rio de Janeiro arrested 16 people, including 11 military police, accused of selling confiscated firearms to criminal groups.

EL SALVADOR / 30 MAR 2011

During his recent visit to troubled El Salvador, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a $200 million security…

EL SALVADOR / 12 OCT 2012

The United States government's designation of the MS-13 as a transnational criminal organization on a par with Mexico's Zetas raises…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events - Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…