An alleged leader of the organized crime group Texis Cartel was found not guilty on charges of running a car theft ring, highlighting El Salvador's weakness in the face of high-level criminals who often possess greater resources than the state.
On November 14, a special court for organized crime in San Salvador absolved Roberto Antonio Herrera Hernandez, alias "El Burro," of charges of running a luxury car theft operation in El Salvador and Guatemala, reported El Faro.
The court cited contradictory witness testimonies in absolving Herrera and one other suspect of the charges, while 15 others implicated in the car theft ring were given prison sentences of at least six years, reported La Pagina. The only witness to testify against Herrera, known as "Tauro" claimed he had met Herrera when he handed over stolen cars to the alleged drug trafficker, but later stated they had never met in person.
Herrera -- arrested in July 2013 for his alleged role in the luxury car theft ring -- will remain in preventive detention while under investigation for his links to drug trafficking, reported La Prensa Grafica
InSight Crime Analysis
The absolution of these charges against an alleged drug kingpin such as Herrera reflects the fact the judicial process in El Salvador is often not a fair fight between top-level criminals and the country's over-stretched state attorney's office.
Herrera is believed to be a founder of the Texis Cartel, one of Central America's most powerful criminal groups which relies on well-placed business and political contacts rather than intimidation and violence to move large quantities of cocaine. It works with Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking groups, moving drugs through the country and beyond. Despite investigations into the Texis Cartel since the early 2000s, state authorities have been unable to prosecute any high-level figure of the criminal group. Despite evidence of financial foul play by another founder of the criminal group, Jose Adan Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo", the money laundering case against him remains unresolved.
SEE ALSO: Texis Cartel News and Profile
The Texis Cartel's ability to leverage political and financial connections to remain free from authorities in not unique in El Salvador. The capture of the alleged drug kingpin Jorge Ernesto Ulloa Sibrian, alias "Repollo" in March 2013 revealed he received protection from police and politicians for years before his arrest. Repollo -- who allegedly collaborated with 11 criminal structures throughout Central America in moving vast quantities of cocaine to Mexico -- is currently on trial for charges of drug trafficking.