HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Mayors Arrested in Emblematic Corruption Case
BRIEF

El Salvador Mayors Arrested in Emblematic Corruption Case

EL SALVADOR / 29 APR 2016 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Authorities in El Salvador captured two current mayors and over a dozen other suspects for awarding government contracts in exchange for personal kickbacks, an emblematic case of how corruption networks operate throughout Latin America. 

On the morning of April 25, national police officers arrested Hugo Balmore Juárez Sánchez, mayor of Monte San Juan in the department of Cuscatlán, and José Rodolfo Antonio Hernández Quijad, mayor of El Congo in the department of Santa Ana, reported La Prensa Gráfica. Authorities also issued arrest warrants for the former mayors of both municipalities, as well as for the ex-mayor of a third town, San Rafael Cedros. In total, 17 suspects have so far been detained.

The former mayor of San Rafael Cedros, Dina Concepción Arévalo Chicas, allegedly granted government contracts worth approximately $700,000 to a local business in exchange for bribe money that reached anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. Prosecutors say the businessman that offered the bribes, Aldryng Gabriel Espinal Fuentes, is an intermediary for the Perrones, a powerful criminal organization that smuggles drugs and other contraband through Guatemala on behalf of larger organized crime groups. 

In El Congo, Edwin Enrique Parada Quezada -- who was mayor from 2012 to 2015 -- commissioned 12 public works projects to several construction firms, including at least one run by Hernández Quijad. The contracts were worth over $375,000, but the projects were never completed; Parada Quezada allegedly kept 90 percent of the earmarked money while the other 10 percent went to the businessmen. (See diagram below)

16-04-26-Guatemala-Mayor-Corruption

InSight Crime Analysis

This case contains elements of several recurrent themes seen in corruption networks across Latin America. As in the current case, government officials are prone to use public works projects to siphon off millions of dollars from state coffers.

The biggest example of this is still unfolding in Brazil, where investigations into a multi-billion dollar kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras have already implicated numerous political and economic elites, and could cost President Dilma Rousseff her job. Similar cases from elsewhere in the region abound; indeed, this type of scheme became so institutionalized in Guatemala that some say the country has essentially turned into a mafia state. President Otto Pérez Molina resigned from the office in September 2015 amid bribery allegations and was arrested the next day. Whether this systematic corruption at the highest levels of government continues as it did before the massive graft scandal that landed a former Guatemalan president and his vice president in jail remains to be seen.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

This Salvadoran case highlights the increasing importance of mayors in local corruption schemes. The decentralization of power in countries throughout Latin America has given mayors more authority over local budgets and security forces, enabling corrupt officials from Mexico to Colombia -- and several places in between -- to build what amount to mini criminal fiefdoms.

These expanded powers are also making mayors the preferred targets of criminal organizations, and those who refuse to submit to armed groups are often subject to attack. In Mexico, for example, some 70 mayors have reportedly been assassinated by criminal groups over the past decade. Gisela Mota was still in bed after a late night celebrating her Jan. 1, 2016, election in the town of Temixco, south of Mexico City, when armed men dragged her into the yard and shot Mota to death.

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

BARRIO 18 / 16 DEC 2021

Though El Salvador stands on track for another record low in homicides this year, the country was recently shaken by…

BARRIO 18 / 15 JAN 2021

The US government’s terrorism case against the MS13 opens a new frontier in fighting international street gangs.

BARRIO 18 / 1 OCT 2020

This is the second part of a three-part series on San Salvador’s Historic Center, the heart of the country’s informal…

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…