HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Detains Officials in Ongoing Fight Against Corruption
BRIEF

El Salvador Detains Officials in Ongoing Fight Against Corruption

EL SALVADOR / 15 AUG 2017 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL EN

El Salvador has taken down a network of colluding officials from within its judiciary, a sign that the momentum against corruption propeled by Attorney General Douglas Meléndez remains strong.

Former judges, legal assistants, lawyers and a current and former prosecutor were among at least 14 individuals captured on August 14, according to a press release by El Salvador's police. The operation is ongoing, with four outstanding arrest warrants.

Authorities say the corrupt network was involved in at least 29 cases of manipulating judicial processes in favor of criminals, according to El Diario de Hoy. The detainees allegedly offered judicial benefits to the defendants, including leaking confidential information, in exchange for bribes ranging from $50 to $10,000.

The ring assisted criminal suspects ranging from gang members to former Salvadoran President Antonio Saca, who stands accused of embezzlement. The latter allegedly paid a legal assistant $10,000 to obtain information on his case -- which now includes an additional charge for bribery -- according to a press release by the attorney general's office.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

The arrests come less than a week after an alleged leak from within El Salvador's judiciary was made public, although the two events currently appear to be unrelated.

On August 7, Police Chief Howard Cotto stated that authorities would pursue politicians that financed death squads in the country, without giving names. The following day, former San Miguel Mayor Will Salgado, who will run in the 2018 mayoral elections, stated that a judicial official had warned him of his imminent arrest for allegedly financing deaths squads, and advised him to flee.

Attorney General Douglas Meléndez neither admitted nor denied that Salgado was being investigated, according to La Prensa Gráfica. Salgado has not been arrested.

In another crackdown against corruption in El Salvador, former Mayor Florentino Rivas and over a dozen other individuals were sent to prison on the same day as authorities dismantled the corrupt judiciary ring, reported elsalvador.com. Rivas was arrested last week, accused of heading a transnational cocaine trafficking network.

InSight Crime Analysis

Corruption is no novelty in El Salvador, whether among judiciary, police or mayors. But these operations suggest an ongoing crackdown on the phenomenon under the impulse of Attorney General Douglas Meléndez.

Since taking office in January 2016, Meléndez has arrested former former President Saca and investigated his successor Mauricio Funes. In addition, the new attorney general distinguished himself from his predecessor in the high-stakes case against José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," the suspected leader of one of El Salvador's most powerful drug trafficking groups, the Texis Cartel.

As InSight Crime reported at the time, the former attorney general had all but buried the case against Salazar Umaña. Once in office, Meléndez reopened the investigation and eventually ordered Chepe Diablo's arrest. This move against a powerful criminal figure whose political ties appeared to reach as high as El Salvador's current vice president was a strong sign of Meléndez's intent to bring about change. These latest arrests suggest that more decisive action against corrupt elements of El Salvador's own government may be yet to come.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 24 APR 2018

The recent arrest of a Guatemalan army colonel for allegedly laundering money for the MS13 shows gangs are growing more…

EL SALVADOR / 9 AUG 2016

Officials in El Salvador announced a new phase of "extraordinary" anti-gang measures instituted earlier this year, despite questions about the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 16 MAY 2018

Less than 48 hours before a new attorney general takes office, prosecutors in Guatemala have added another and perhaps the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

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.