HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Ex-Mayor Ordered Gang to Kill Local Official, Police Say
BRIEF

El Salvador Ex-Mayor Ordered Gang to Kill Local Official, Police Say

BARRIO 18 / 23 MAR 2017 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Authorities in El Salvador say a former mayor who was arrested last year had ordered gang members to kill a municipal official, revealing the dangers of too much interaction between gangs and city hall.

The Salvadoran Attorney General's Office arrested 21 members of the Barrio 18 gang for their involvement in the murder of René Antonio Díaz Orellana, a local councilman in the municipality of Apopa, reported La Prensa Gráfica.

Police investigators say three of the recently detained gang members attempted to kill Díaz Orellana in 2013 on orders from Apopa's mayor at the time, Elías Hernández. When that attack was unsuccessful, Hernández instructed three other gang members to carry out the hit. The latter set of gang members were reportedly receiving benefits from the mayor.

Hernández was arrested in early June of last year for his alleged ties to the gang. Díaz Orellana was killed later that month. 

According to the police, Hernández ordered Díaz Orellana's murder because he failed to meet the gang's demands for extortion payments and because the two had had political disputes.  

The gang structure is also believed to be responsible for the killing of a police sergeant in October 2015, as well as several other crimes. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The newest allegation against Hernández suggests his relationship with the gang, which initially appeared to have some altruistic elements, eventually became a vehicle to advance his personal interests and eliminate political enemies. 

Relationships between mayors' offices and gangs, while never an ideal scenario, have the potential to bring some much-needed relief to communities living in areas dominated by the gangs. According to the investigation that led to his arrest last year, Hernández sought a pact with the Barrio 18 in order to reduce the gang's extortion of shop owners. The mayor also wanted Apopa to become a "sanctuary" city -- meaning free of homicides -- and for the gang members to turn in their arsenal of weapons, according to witness testimony. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

But the gangs had demands of their own. In exchange for not extorting the store owners, the mayor imposed new taxes and sent some of the increased revenue to the gang, witnesses say. The mayor also allegedly allowed Barrio 18 members to use police cars to move drug shipments, and some gang members to collect government salaries. 

While the quid pro quo between Hernández and the Barrio 18 was obviously of a criminal nature, there is a sizable gray area when it comes to officials engaging with gangs. Indeed, two separate videos released last year show El Salvador's former security minister and current interior minister meeting with national gang leaders. 

Given the gangs' increasingly political outlook, the Apopa case is unlikely to be the last that forces the authorities to grapple with this issue. 

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 / 7 APR 2017

A Peruvian mayor has been arrested during an operation to dismantle a large criminal organization, providing new evidence of the…

CACHIROS / 9 MAR 2017

Government contracts awarded to businesses run by a powerful drug clan during the administration of former Honduras President Porfirio Lobo, allegedly…

ARGENTINA / 27 FEB 2017

A string of arrests has led Argentina's Security Minister to denounce the links between drug trafficking and local politics in…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…