HomeNewsBriefFBI to Train Anti-Extortion Unit in El Salvador
BRIEF

FBI to Train Anti-Extortion Unit in El Salvador

BARRIO 18 / 15 MAR 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) will help train a task force in El Salvador dedicated to investigating extortion-related crimes, with nearly 3,000 extortion cases reported in 2011.

The FBI’s Legal Attache in El Salvador, Joseph Deters, said that the US will support the training of the prosecutors and police who will make up the special task force. The unit will focus on the extortion of medium and small businesses, according to La Prensa Grafica.

Deters said that the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and the National Civil Police (PNC) will select the members of the task force.

El Salvador already has an investigative unit dedicated exclusively to investigating extortion. Police Director Francisco Salinas said that the existing unit will probably be phased out and replaced with the new FBI-trained force.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to La Prensa Grafica, Salinas said that the current anti-extortion office had been “weakened” and that the government was seeking to strengthen it, but there was a chance that it could be shut down altogether. This looks like an admission that the office was ineffective.

The Attorney General’s Office processed 2,926 extortion cases between January and November 2011, about a 20 percent drop compared to the same period in 2010. But this may not indicate that extortion is going down, just that citizens are more reluctant to report it.

FBI agent Deters said that the new anti-extortion task force falls under the Partnership for Growth agreement that the US and El Salvador signed in November. El Salvador is just one of four countries to have signed such a Partnership Agreement — a five-year program which is supposed to help El Salvador overcome obstacles to its economic development, including crime and insecurity.

The agreement is one of several anti-crime initiatives that the US backs in El Salvador. Aside from Panama and Mexico City, El Salvador is the only country in Central America with a permanent FBI attache office. The FBI also backs a vetted police unit in El Salvador, the Transnational Anti-Gang unit. This history of cooperation means that the new anti-extortion task force is a logical progression for El Salvador’s law enforcement.

It is also encouraging that the new task force will reportedly focus on cases involving small rather than big business, as these are disproportionately affected by extortion demands. As in other countries in the hemisphere, Salvador’s bus companies are particular targets for extortion, forced to pay taxes to local gangs in order to operate certain routes. In the north of the country, the problem was so serious that bus drivers called a mass strike last year.

In order to be effective, the new task force will likely have to focus on El Salvador’s prison system. Most of the extortion rackets operated by Barrio-18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) are run from prison by gang members who have been locked up.

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

BARRIO 18 / 20 APR 2017

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts…

COSTA RICA / 12 JUN 2018

Cell phone trafficking in Costa Rica prisons has become a lucrative and rarely punished business, allowing criminals to continue their…

BARRIO 18 / 20 MAY 2013

The constitutional chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court ruled Friday that the appointment of two former army generals in top…

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…