HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Crime Boss Allegedly Laundered Money With Panama Companies
BRIEF

El Salvador Crime Boss Allegedly Laundered Money With Panama Companies

CHEPE DIABLO / 17 APR 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," has been accused of laundering money via shell companies in Panama, a reminder of the important role these corporate structures play for criminal groups in Latin America.

El Salvador's Attorney General Office said José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias "Chepe Diablo," suspected leader of the Texis cartel, allegedly opened front companies in Panama to launder money, reported La Prensa Gráfica on April 6.

Chepe Diablo was captured on April 4 and is accused of managing a criminal organization responsible for laundering an estimated $215 million.

Jorge Cortez, head of the Attorney General's Financial Investigation Unit said Chepe Diablo began to set up corporations in Panama once his name appeared on the US Treasury Department's "Kingpin List" in May 2014 and his Salvadoran bank accounts were closed as a result.

As Chepe Diablo's organization "was accumulating a lot of money," members of the criminal group decided to "create companies using the names of other people," Cortez was quoted by La Prensa Gráfica as saying.

Three people have been implicated in Chepe Diablo's money laundering scheme in Guatemala, La Prensa Gráfica reported separately on April 17. One of them, Rodolfo José Leiva Fajardo, is allegedly linked with a Panamanian company whose name reportedly appeared in the massive document leak last year that became known as the Panama Papers.

Chepe Diablo was removed from the OFAC list on April 7, 2017, but he is still detained in El Salvador, where he awaits his trial.

InSight Crime Analysis

The fact that Chepe Diablo allegedly relied on shell companies to launder money should not come as a surprise. A recent report from Global Financial Integrity, an advocacy organization based in Washington, DC, estimated that transnational illegal activities generate between $1.6 and $2.2 trillion per year, much of which flows through legal financial structures, including shell companies.

Organized crime groups must reinvest their revenues to allow their criminal operations to continue. In order to do so, criminal networks have long used shell companies with the aim of laundering money through banks without being detected. To a lesser degree, they have also relied on trade-based laundering schemes that hide illegal financial flows by making them seem like legitimate business transactions.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

The uncovering of the Panama Papers scandal did seem to boost the fight for financial transparency across the region. But as InSight Crime has previously reported, and as the Chepe Diablo case shows, Latin America still has a long way to go in terms of strengthening anti-money laundering policies and combating the illicit financial flows that allow crime groups to continue their activities. 

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 / 16 DEC 2021

Two sons of former Panama President Ricardo Martinelli have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the United States related to…

BRAZIL / 7 JAN 2021

Brazil has dismantled several large, sophisticated counterfeit cash rings in recent months, indicating that criminal groups with the technological savvy…

COLOMBIA / 17 JUN 2021

A criminal group in Colombia is turning dirty money into adulterated gold, in the latest addition to a long list…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…