In the first eight months of this year, 232 members of El Salvador’s National Police were arrested on suspicion of participating in a variety of crimes, including murder, extortion, and kidnapping.
El Salvador’s National Police Inspector General Zaira Navas said that the·number of police removed from the force in 2011 is on track to exceed last year’s total of 274. The number arrested so far this year averages out at one officer detained almost every day.
The Inspector General’s Office provided details on the serious crimes in which members of the National Civil Police (PNC) are alleged to have participated. These include fraud, bribery, sexual assault, association with criminal groups and abuse of authority. One officer was recently detained on charges of planning the massacre of four journalists in Colon, in the southwest department La Libertad. A National Police sergeant is currently awaiting trial for the murder of a Nicaraguan man in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador.
The growth in arrests could be a sign of President Mauricio Funes’ commitment to purging law enforcement of corruption. In June, Funes vowed to eliminate criminal elements in El Salvador’s National Police by purging the force of officers linked to organized crime, while calling upon governments in Latin America to do the same.
Members of the National Police have been accused of working with the Perrones, a drug-smuggling network operating in the eastern region of the country, even allegedly taking part in the murder of an informant who supplied the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with information about the group.