The arrest of more than a dozen people linked to Roberto "El Burro" Herrera, one of the alleged founders of El Salvador's Texis Cartel, suggests that authorities may be starting to take a more aggressive stance against the powerful, politically connected criminal organization.
On July 23, the National Civil Police (PNC), in coordination with the Attorney General's Office (FGR), arrested 13 people accused of belonging to a gang involved in robbery and car theft, reported La Prensa Grafica. Authorities said those arrested are linked to the theft of at least 106 vehicles, which were then sold in Guatemala.
The detainees are reportedly linked to rancher Roberto "El Burro" Herrera, a high-ranking member of the Texis Cartel, a major drug trafficking organization in El Salvador. Herrera was arrested on July 21, accused of leading a transnational car theft network that involved stealing vehicles and reselling them in other countries, as La Prensa Grafica reported. Authorities said the charges filed against Herrera only had to do with the car theft network, which reportedly stole between four to five cars a week.
InSight Crime Analysis
Both the police and Salvadoran media have identified Herrera as one of El Salvador's major criminal players for a number of years. However, a previous attempt to capture him -- which took place in February 2011 on the basis of a US arrest warrant -- ended with him walking free.
As pointed out by a United Nations report, the Texis Cartel has managed to establish a high level of control over cocaine trafficking and other types of criminal activity in El Salvador thanks to its penetration of state institutions and its influence over local politics. Despite in-depth reporting on the cartel's activities and its ties to government officials by Salvadoran media outlets such as El Faro and La Prensa Grafica, so far there has been little investigation by authorities.
SEE MORE: Coverage of the Texis Cartel
That said, it is possible that these arrests may be a sign of a greater effort by authorities to combat the Texis Cartel. El Faro's report on the July 23 arrests notes that Herrera is the fourth person with alleged links to the group to be captured within a year.