Over 250 police suspected of ties to drug trafficking will be transferred out of their posts in western El Salvador in a move authorities say is a preventative measure, but seems more likely to be linked to the influence of the Texis Cartel.
The agents will be forced to leave their positions in the department of Santa Ana and reassigned to new placements around the country, reported La Prensa Grafica.
National Civil Police Subdirector Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde said there was no evidence the agents being transferred were corrupt and the measure is being taken as a standard precaution to prevent criminal infiltration.
However, the following day President Mauricio Funes confirmed the men were transferred because of suspicions over corruption and ties to drug trafficking.
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While the local police chief continues to insist the transfers were part of an ongoing strategy of rotation, this seems unlikely to be the case as there have been no other transfers so far this year and police say no more are planned.
It seems far more likely the authorities have strong suspicions as to which officers are working with criminal elements but do not have enough evidence to fire or prosecute them, a position hinted at by President Funes when he said, "We are carrying out a purge with all the tools and weapons the law gives us, which is why in this case we are acting administratively by making the necessary transfers."
The department of Santa Ana is the territory of the Texis Cartel, a major cocaine trafficking organization in the region. Among the cartel leaders are renowned businessmen and politicians and it is almost certain they will have sought to co-opt security forces.
There have been previous incidences of police in Santa Ana working with drug traffickers, while corruption in the PNC throughout the country is rife, and goes up to the highest levels.