HomeNewsBriefAlleged MS13 Members in El Salvador Caught Selling Illicit Horse Meat
BRIEF

Alleged MS13 Members in El Salvador Caught Selling Illicit Horse Meat

EL SALVADOR / 16 NOV 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Authorities in El Salvador have arrested 39 alleged members of the MS13 for planning to sell 5,600 pounds of contraband horse meat, a potential sign of the gang's increasing sophistication as it seeks to diversify its criminal revenue streams.

Police conducted the raid on the morning of November 15 in the municipality of San Rafael Obrajuelo, reported El Diario de Hoy. At least 14 horses were slaughtered in order to produce the meat, while four more were found alive near a clandestine slaughterhouse. Authorities also seized seven cars that were used to transport the product. 

Prosecutors said that 20 additional gang members who are already in prison have also been implicated in the scheme, reported DiarioTRV. The suspects are charged with belonging to a terrorist organization and environmental contamination. The commercialization of horse meat for human consumption is illegal in El Salvador.

The authorities did not specify whether the horses legally belonged to the alleged gang members or whether they had been stolen. According to El Diario de Hoy, police in San Rafael Obrajuelo frequently make seizures of contraband horse meat. 

InSight Crime Analysis

If the MS13 was in fact behind the scheme, it would represent yet another source of income for a gang that is increasing its stake in semi-legal and fully legal companies. While micro-trafficking and extortion remain its staple revenue streams, authorities have raided over 150 businesses linked to MS13 leaders as part of an ongoing investigation known as "Operación Jaque" (Operation Check). The motels, bars, brothels and public transport companies run by frontmen generated "millions of dollars" for the gang's leadership, according to police officials. 

SEE ALSO:  MS13 News and Profile

The horse meat conspiracy is somewhat different in that it appears to have involved dozens of low-level gang members. Still, it would have required contacts along several points in the supply chain, that could range from the ranchers procuring the horses to butchers to vendors in local markets. That type of coordination suggests the MS13 is becoming an increasingly sophisticated organization as its financial interests diversify.

This pattern can also be seen in neighboring Honduras and Guatemala, which along with El Salvador make up what is known as Central America's Northern Triangle region. In Honduras, "Operation Avalanche" has revealed that MS13 leaders are laundering extortion profits in more elaborate ways in order to protect their assets. Guatemalan MS13 members have also reportedly begun to invest their criminal earnings in legitimate enterprises such as motorcycle taxis. 

share icon icon icon

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

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 / 1 DEC 2014

A military official in El Salvador was sentenced to seven years in prison for arms trafficking, an indication the country…

BARRIO 18 / 24 JAN 2013

Guatemalan President Otto Perez has said he would not rule out alternative strategies for dealing with "mara" gangs in his…

MS13 / 31 MAY 2011

An assessment by the Texas Department of Public Safety of the security threat posed by gangs in the state. The…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…