HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Scraps Undercover Police on Buses Scheme
BRIEF

El Salvador Scraps Undercover Police on Buses Scheme

EL SALVADOR / 27 AUG 2013 BY MIRIAM WELLS EN

A scheme that placed undercover police officers and soldiers on board El Salvador buses to combat extortion and robbery has been scrapped due to lack of funds, despite the worryingly high rates of crime targeting public transport workers and passengers.

Defense Minister David Munguia told La Prensa Grafica that the team of elite police officers and members of the military’s Special Antiterrorist Command (CEAT) who had been patrolling buses incognito since last August had been withdrawn some months ago.

The primary reason was lack of funds, he said. The group of 132 officers dressed in civilian clothes and travelled at least 50 bus routes as normal passengers, so had to pay fares. Each officer got $4 a day in fare money, meaning a monthly budget of $15,840, reported the newspaper. Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde, deputy director general of the National Police, said, “The funds for the bus scheme came out of the institution’s resources, but it was a very high cost.”

Another reason for scrapping the plan was the use of “excessive force” by the officers, said La Prensa Grafica. Although they had been trained in how to defend themselves without firearms, two members of CEAT were believed to have fatally shot a man after he carried out an assault on a bus last December.

InSight Crime Analysis

Extortion of bus drivers and taxi drivers is a major source of income for gangs in El Salvador and many countries across the region, making the profession an extremely dangerous one — 625 drivers were reportedly killed in El Salvador between 2006 and 2011. In Guatemala more than 1,000 drivers were killed between 2006 and 2012, according to trade association Coordinadora Nacional de Transporte.

The lack of funding and allegations of abuse cited by La Prensa Grafica in the El Salvador police operation are major impediments to effective law enforcement across the region. The scheme also failed to address the underlying cause — that bus drivers are easy targets as they carry around large amounts of cash with no protection. The introduction of a smart card system for bus fares in Guatemala City could prove far more effective, though it was reported in May that most passengers continued to pay in cash.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

DISPLACEMENT / 22 MAY 2014

The United States is seeing a flood of migrants -- many of them unaccompanied children -- from Central America, despite…

COLOMBIA / 16 SEP 2014

According to a Colombian business federation, 90 percent of small business owners in the Medellin area are victims of extortion,…

BARRIO 18 / 26 FEB 2016

A Wall Street Journal report documents how youths in El Salvador are choosing to become firefighters in order to avoid…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…