HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Gang Boss had Close Contact with Govt Officials: Report
BRIEF

El Salvador Gang Boss had Close Contact with Govt Officials: Report

BARRIO 18 / 18 FEB 2016 BY SAM TABORY EN

An ongoing trial in El Salvador has included assertions that a gang leader was in regular contact with politicians and other government officials, even though the country's former president recently said that the truce involved no direct contact between the two. 

Evidence gathered from the cell phone of suspected gang member Rubén Antonio Rosa Lovo, who faces extortion charges along with 67 other suspected gang members, suggests that government officials were in contact with top gang leaders during the 2012-2013 gang truce, reported La Prensa Grafica.

According to prosecutors, forensic analysis of the purported gang leader's phone suggests that Rosa Lovo was in contact with "a congressman" and "a former security minister."

SEE ALSO: Coverage of El Salvador Gang Truce

Communications recovered from the suspected gang leader's phone reportedly detail a conversation in which Rosa Lovo agrees to supply votes to a particular lawmaker in exchange for cooperation and support of the now-defunct gang truce.

Both David Munguía Payés and Ricardo Perdomo served as security minister for former President Mauricio Funes at different times during the era of the gang truce.

While the truce was active, major gangs like the MS13 and Barrio 18 committed to halting violence, and homicide levels fell accordingly. Funes has recently asserted that the government was not directly involved in negotiating with the gangs, and merely supported the mediators who helped brokered the truce. 

InSight Crime Analysis

El Salvador's gang truce was controversial from the very beginning. Recently, however, critics seem to be growing bolder in their attempts to impugn the actions of the previous administration, while Funes appears to be ever more eager to disown the government's alleged role in the initiative. 

The ongoing trial covered by La Prensa Grafica is not the only case in which court evidence appeared to point to contact between gang leaders and key officials. In a previous case, a protected witness reportedly testified that gang truce mediator Raul Mijango -- one of those mediators that the Funes government has said it supported -- approved of a gang attack on a police station. 

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Critics of the gang truce have argued that the initiative gave the Barrio 18 and MS13 the breathing room they needed to reorganize, consolidate, and strengthen. One concern is whether the truce allowed the gangs -- in particular the MS13 -- to become more sophisticated criminal structures, capable of smuggling drugs or weapons internationally. 

The US Treasury Department appeared to signal that this may be the case, after announcing new sanctions against MS13 gang leaders for "orchestrating assassination campaigns against Salvadoran law enforcement, military, and government officials." The Treasury Department first designated the MS13 as a transnational criminal organizations (TCO) in 2012. 

The new sanctions from Treasury weigh in unambiguously on the side of those who believe the gang truce strengthened the MS13. Along with assertions that government officials were in closer contact with gang members than they now claim, all this ultimately makes it harder for anyone to propose working with the gangs to reduce violence and death tolls. 

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

COLOMBIA / 27 JAN 2016

Venezuela's capital city of Caracas has reportedly overtaken Honduras' San Pedro Sula to become the most violent city in the…

COCAINE / 5 JUN 2017

Authorities in El Salvador have intercepted a cocaine shipment with alleged ties to political elites in Guatemala, further indicating…

EL SALVADOR / 17 NOV 2014

An alleged leader of the organized crime group Texis Cartel was found not guilty on charges of running a car…

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…