HomeNewsBriefAnother Municipality Busted for Gang Ties in El Salvador
BRIEF

Another Municipality Busted for Gang Ties in El Salvador

BARRIO 18 / 22 JUN 2016 BY SEAN TJADEN EN

 The police chief of Zacatecoluca is on the lam in the second case this month of a major municipality allegedly infiltrated and corrupted by the same gangs that are the focus of a major crackdown by El Salvador’s government. 

El Salvador’s Attorney General’s office said on June 21 that it issued arrest warrants for 13 people suspected of terrorist organization in the Zacatecoluca municipality, located in La Paz department some 40 km southeast of San Salvador. Municipal police chief Vicente de los Ángeles Comayagua Barahona and four of his officers are among those charged.

Attorney General Douglas Meléndez said the officers were involved with the Barrio 18 gang in an extortion ring that operated in the local market. He said a gang leader held in the penitentiary located in Zacatecoluca directed the extortion ring. The charge of terrorist organization is generally applied to members of the country’s violent streets gangs. Most of the other suspects were identified as members of the Barrio 18.

"The director of the CAM (municipal police force) and other members of the CAM have been supporting the Barrio 18 gang structure from within the municipality, providing them with vehicular transportation" and ammunition, Meléndez told La Prensa Gráfica. He added that two gang members had been allowed to join the police force.  

La Prensa Gráfica reported that four police officers were among 12 people arrested in the case, and that Meléndez believed an information leak allowed the police chief to evade capture.

InSight Crime Analysis

Zacatecoluca is the second major municipality to be implicated in this type of corruption scandal in less than a month -- the mayor of Apopa, 15 municipal employees, and 14 gang members were arrested during the first week of June. What makes the Zacatecoluca case notable, however, is that the town is home to a maximum-security prison, and investigators traced the extortion ring back to a gang leader held there.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profile 

Additionally, Apopa and Zacatecoluca are two of 10 cities that participated in the controversial 2012 gang truce, which marked a high point in the gangs’ political clout. The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance party (ARENA) runs Apopa, while Zacatecaluca is governed by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

The corruption scandal in Zacatecoluca is yet another indicator that El Salvador’s gangs still wield political power, as shown by their influence over the local governments. That the police chief was tipped off to the raid may also indicate that the gangs’ infiltration of law enforcement extends to the national level.

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

EL SALVADOR / 31 OCT 2022

Rodolfo Delgado, El Salvador's Attorney General, may have worrying connections to Jorge Manuel Vega Knight, an alleged money launderer and…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 19 JUL 2022

Amid El Salvador's brutal anti-gang crackdown, one top MS13 leader was escorted out of the country by a government official.

EL SALVADOR / 23 JUN 2021

On the eve of the extradition of top leaders of El Salvador’s feared Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang to the United…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…