The wife of a jailed MS-13 gang leader in El Salvador was arrested on extortion charges, which, if legitimate, could draw further attention to the gang's reliance on the crime as a way to bring in funds, even while it negotiates ways to leave gang life.
Jenny Judith Corado Portillo was among 11 people detained May 17, on extortion charges across El Salvador's Morazan department, the Prosecutor General's Office said. According to El Diario de Hoy, Corado was carrying $8,000 at the time of her arrest, outside a prison in the city of San Miguel, where both her husband, Borromeo Henriquez Solorzano, alias "El Diablito de Hollywood," and her brother are serving sentences.
Salvadoran authorities said they are investigating an extortion ring, which they believe is run out of the prison where El Diablito is housed. Corado has previously been detained by police on other criminal charges such as theft, although none of those cases resulted in a conviction.
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Corado's husband has been actively involved in the truce that the government helped broker between the country's two largest gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18. He was among several top gang leaders who were granted access to better living conditions in prison, as part of the government's concessions to the gangs in return for their pledge to halt killings.
When arguing in favor of her innocence, Corado's defense will likely point out that she managed several snack stands inside the prison, which reportedly brought in profits of around $4,000 a month. Still, police reportedly seized cell phone chips and documentation from Corado's home in Soyapango that demonstrated she may have been laundering proceeds or administering the movement of money via opaque methods.
If El Diablito's romantic partner is found guilty of extortion, this could cast another shadow on El Salvador's gang truce, and cause some to further question El Diablito's alleged commitment to bringing about a more peaceful El Salvador. Neither gang committed to ceasing extortion operations as part of their pact to halt killings, but citizens and businesses alike will not embrace the truce until they see extortion cease.