HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Gangs Use Hospital Staff to Pass On Criminal Orders
BRIEF

El Salvador Gangs Use Hospital Staff to Pass On Criminal Orders

BARRIO 18 / 2 JUL 2019 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A network of corrupt hospital officials is allegedly helping imprisoned gang members communicate attack orders to other associates, in just the latest state institution to be co-opted by the country’s criminal groups.

Jailed gang members are using medical appointments in public hospitals to send criminal orders to other gang members through a network of corrupt hospital workers, according to El Salvador Prison Director Osiris Luna Meza, La Prensa Gráfica reported.

Luna Meza says that gang members have admitted to having “bought off” certain employees in order to relay essential information to gang members still on the outside, according to official intelligence reports.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profile

Salvadoran law currently allows inmates to leave prison to receive treatment in public hospitals when they’re experiencing health problems. However, Luna Meza is calling for an end to this practice to ensure that all inmates can receive adequate care within the prisons they’re housed in, according to La Prensa Gráfica.

All of El Salvador’s prisons are supposed to have medical clinics to care for inmates. These services would be expanded under Luna Meza’s proposed reforms to eliminate the gangs’ use of corrupt public hospital workers to disseminate information.

The latest revelations come just after President Nayib Bukele declared a “state of emergency” in various prisons June 21 due to suspicions of a possible attack.

InSight Crime Analysis

Powerful gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 in El Salvador have for years relied on infiltrating state institutions to secure protection and further their criminal interests.

Indeed, the gangs have in the past “forged election pacts with the country’s main political parties” and have even brokered agreements where they have been gifted food, money and jobs by political operatives. All of this has allowed them to “widen their own social and political power base,” as InSight Crime detailed in one part of a 2017 investigation into mayors and organized crime in the Northern Triangle on gangs and municipal power in El Salvador.

SEE ALSO: Gangs and Municipal Power in Apopa, El Salvador

The political system isn’t the only state institution the gangs have co-opted.

Between 2010 and 2015, for example, nearly 500 gang members allegedly infiltrated El Salvador’s armed forces and police. In some cases, gang members have used corrupt police forces to help run extortion rackets — their primary income source — or corrupt troops to obtain high-powered weaponry.

In addition, El Salvador’s prison system has served as the headquarters for the MS13 and Barrio 18 — the country’s two largest gangs — for more than a decade. “The gangs’ takeover of the prisons resulted from a combination of bad public policy, and the gangs’ increasing organizational skill and guile,” InSight Crime reported in a 2017 investigation.

Compartir 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.

Related Content

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 15 FEB 2018

In our February 15 Facebook Live session, Co-Director Steven Dudley, Senior Investigator Héctor Silva Ávalos and Senior Editor Mike LaSusa…

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 2 JUL 2013

Mexico's principal drug trafficking organizations have moved 90 percent of their US-destined cocaine trafficking operations to Central America, indicates…

CHILE / 26 JUN 2020

As part of his work in human rights, transitional justice and prison reform, Michael Reed has been inside dozens of…

About InSight Crime

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…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…