A former officer in El Salvador’s Special Forces was sentenced to 31 years in prison after attempting to sell weapons to an undercover agent posing as a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).

The U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia found Hector Antonio Martinez Guillen guilty of arms and explosives trafficking, charges which carry a minimum sentence of 30 years.

Martinez pleaded guilty earlier this year after being arrested following a sting operation carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The retired military officer sold the weapons and explosives in January 2010 to an undercover DEA agent who posed as a member of the FARC, the left-wing Colombian guerrilla group. He was subsequently arrested in Washington D.C. in November 2010, while attempting to smuggle a 20-kilo load of cocaine into the country on behalf of the FARC. 

In late May, authorities in El Salvador arrested six members of the military charged with attempting to sell over 1,800 hand grenades to criminal gangs. That month, another former army lieutenant for trying to sell three M-16 machine guns. Similarly to neighboring Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador has huge stockpiles of military weapons, a legacy of a series of civil conflicts.

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