HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Military Officers Ordered Executions: Attorney General
BRIEF

El Salvador Military Officers Ordered Executions: Attorney General

EL SALVADOR / 28 FEB 2018 BY SCOTT SQUIRES EN

High-ranking members of El Salvador’s military allegedly commanded a secret death squad to execute gang members, the first instance of senior military personnel being so clearly implicated in the ordering of extrajudicial killings in the country in recent years.

According to phone conversations intercepted by the Attorney General’s Office last year, three top ranking army officials orchestrated the group’s operations in an effort to illegally execute suspected gang members.

Wiretaps recorded Colonels David Iglesias Montalvo, Héctor Solano Cáceres and Lieutenant Lionel Ascencio Sermeño discussing the squadron, and revealed the existence of a structure of command within the army’s intelligence unit. Members of the army’s Information and Analysis Battalion (Battalón de Información y Análisis del Ejército -- BIAE) carried out the killings, the Attorney General’s Office alleged.

See Also: Coverage of El Salvador

The Attorney General’s Office also accused the officers of covering up an incident last June when soldiers tortured two people in the western department of Ahuachapán.

In a recent press conference, El Salvador's Defense Minister General David Munguía Payés criticized the Attorney General’s Office for charging the officers with the cover-up. He also denied the existence of the secret unit.

“There are no extermination groups,” Munguía said in comments reported by local media. “Neither will we tolerate the existence of extermination groups within the institution."

In response, the Attorney General’s Office criticized the armed forces for being "defensive," and called for greater cooperation between the two agencies.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extrajudicial killings are a major symptom of the ongoing insecurity in El Salvador, as government forces grapple with the gang violence that has made the country one of the world’s most violent. El Salvador has seen rising violence, despite security officials' use of "extraordinary" tactics and increasingly hardline measures to exert control.

Although there have been many documented cases of executions, assault and extortion by security forces across the country, the Attorney General’s Office's evidence is the first to clearly single out high-ranking military officials.

Many of the country’s security forces are thought to be infiltrated by gang members, and the country’s Police Reaction Group (Grupo de Reación Policial -- GRP) was dissolved and replaced earlier this month after repeatedly being accused of carrying out massacres.

See Also: Coverage of Police Corruption in El Salvador

Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, recently spoke with InSight Crime, and described the use of excessive force among Salvadoran security forces as linked to impunity, weak institutional oversight and an inability to effectively prosecute corruption.

“Ultimately it is about providing good evidence, having judges that are not afraid of indicting police officers, and protecting these judges from very unpopular decisions,” Callamard said.

Callamard also noted that the Salvadoran justice system needs mechanisms that allow officials to gather "the required evidence to demonstrate extrajudicial executions or excessive use of force,” to effectively tackle institutional corruption.

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

CACHIROS / 6 JUL 2016

While speaking before the US Congress' Central America Caucus on July 6, InSight Crime Co-Director Steven Dudley outlined how drug…

CIACS / 6 OCT 2017

Guatemala's anti-impunity body the CICIG has made dramatic new allegations in the case of the so-called "king" of Guatemala's prison…

GUATEMALA / 18 JUL 2019

Some two dozen planes suspected of carrying drugs have been discovered in Guatemala this year, evidence that traffickers are continuing…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…