Wilver Rivera Monge, a former congressman, was given 15 years in prison for his role in laundering drug money for the notorious trafficker Jorge Ulloa Sibrián, alias "Repollo," highlighting the complex nexus between organized crime and politics in El Salvador.
Repollo, who is currently serving a 77-year prison sentence, was given an additional 15 years for money laundering bringing his total sentence to 92 years. Rivera Monge's wife and son were also each given 10 years, reported La Prensa Grafica.
The attorney general's office found more than 9 million dollars in Rivera Monge's three bank accounts. The former congressman claimed that the money came from the legal sale of vehicles and motorcycles. Investigators dismissed this claim, saying the numbers did not add up.
The case revealed a money laundering network under the command of Ulloa Sibrián, or Repollo, in which properties and vehicles were bought and sold to conceal and move illicit funds earned from trafficking narcotics.
The original allegations claimed that Rivera Monge's 2012 campaign was funded with $1 million of illicitly earned funds, as previously reported by La Prensa Grafica.
In 2014, Repollo was sentenced to 77 years for his role in leading a cocaine transport operation that spanned much of Central America. His conviction represented a rare victory for the Salvadorian Justice system, which often struggles to prosecute high-level traffickers.
Following Repollo's arrest in 2013, Security Minister David Munguia Payes denied claims that any members of Congress were involved in the network. This statement would later have to be retracted as details of Rivera Monge's involvement became clear.
InSight Crime Analysis
Rivera Monge's conviction is a positive step for the Salvadoran justice system. While only a minor political player, he is the first to be convicted of laundering drug money while in congress. This trial sets a precedent for further dissection of political finances and the role organized crime may play in Salvadoran politics.
SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles
The conviction follows a recent ruling by the Institute of Access to Public Information (Instituto de Acceso a la Información Pública) that the Ministry of Finance must disclose the list of donors to political parties from the last election campaign, reported La Prensa Grafica.
While Rivera Monge's conviction represents a landmark ruling, as political finance is further scrutinized, his trial may not be the last.