HomeNewsBriefFugitive El Salvador Mayor Accused of Aiding Transnational Organized Crime
BRIEF

Fugitive El Salvador Mayor Accused of Aiding Transnational Organized Crime

EL SALVADOR / 19 MAR 2018 BY SCOTT SQUIRES EN

Recent accusations against a former mayor in El Salvador of exchanging real estate with a drug trafficker are yet further proof of the entrenched relationship between politics and organized crime in the country and highlight new, more sophisticated, corruption dynamics.

Juan Umaña Samayoa, ex-mayor of the northwestern town of Metapán, is accused of swapping plots of land with Isaac García Lemus, who is believed to be the head of an international smuggling network dismantled by Salvadoran authorities on March 13, 2018.

Umaña Samayoa was implicated after authorities seized seven of García Lemus’ properties, one of which was previously owned by the former mayor. El Salvador’s Anti-Narcotic Division (División Antinarcóticos - DAN) launched the investigation into the criminal network after cocaine and contraband cigarettes were confiscated while entering El Salvador from Guatemala.

This is not the first criminal allegation against the former mayor, who has been on the run since April 2017 after he was accused of laundering money through a real estate business connected to José Adán Salazar Umaña, alias “Chepe Diablo,” the Salvadoran businessman known as a founding member and leader of the Texis Cartel.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Texis Cartel

Last year, Umaña inaugurated a new paved road abutting the properties owned by the smuggling network, and authorities identified the road as a trafficking route to Guatemala.

InSight Crime Analysis

Umaña’s land swap with García implies a more sophisticated level of corruption that could exist within the country’s administrative offices like notaries, land registries or other bureaucratic agencies.

What's more, rather than an attempt to aid local gangs, Umaña’s land swap in this case was an effort to facilitate a transnational smuggling ring. The ex-mayor’s connections with Chepe Diablo suggest that international groups like the Texis Cartel might have some influence over El Salvador’s municipal politics, although it’s difficult to determine exactly how much.

Reports of links between politicians and criminal networks in El Salvador are not new, particularly at the local level.

The mayor of Apopa -- a suburb in San Salvador -- was arrested in 2017 for allegedly facilitating extortion networks. Another mayor associated with the National Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista -- ARENA) party, Lucio Edwin Ayala, was arrested last week for his alleged involvement in running a drug trafficking network in the municipality of San Antonio de la Cruz in the north of the country.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Corruption in El Salvador

Similar threads of corruption also reached the national stage when, in 2016, videos surfaced showing members of the ruling Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional – FMLN) offering $10 million in microcredit to gang leaders in exchanger for their support in the 2014 elections.

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

EL SALVADOR / 3 MAY 2021

The decision by legislators aligned with El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele to oust the country’s top prosecutor may spell the…

EL SALVADOR / 18 MAY 2021

Though far from revelatory, a new list of officials the United States government suspects of corruption and drug trafficking in…

BRAZIL / 12 JUL 2022

Sergio Roberto de Carvalho, or Brazil's Pablo Escobar, has finally been brought down. Several countries want to have the privilege…

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…