Police have arrested a leader of one of El Salvador's most powerful drug smuggling networks, the little-known Texis Cartel, which could signal the end of the group's ability to operate with scant attention from law enforcement.
Jose Misael Cisneros Rodriguez, alias "Medio Millon," was arrested in the northern Chalatenango province. He is being held on homicide charges, although police said that they had evidence of his involvement in drug trafficking, money laundering, and supplying weapons to a branch of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang known as the Fulton Loco Salvatruchas.
Medio Million reportedly controlled an armed group of some 200 armed men that formed part of the Texis Cartel network. A loose association of powerful business and political leaders based in Chalatenango, the Texis Cartel is one of the primary movers of cocaine from northern El Salvador into Honduras, working with whatever criminal group pays them the highest price.
Like the other individuals who make up the Texis Cartel, Medio Millon reportedly had links to the local government and security forces. The fact that Medio Millon was caught while in a vehicle parked near a police station in the town of Nueva Concepcion also raises questions over why one of El Salvador's most wanted men, who had already escaped capture several times, chose to seek refuge close to law enforcement. One police source told El Faro that Medio Million had come to the police station "to do business." Previous attempts to capture the alleged trafficker failed thanks to his informants within the police force, according to El Faro.
InSight Crime Analysis
This is one of the first reported arrests of a high-ranking member of the Texis Cartel network. The organization has been identified as a prominent trafficking group by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Medio Millon's activities have been tracked by the US agency for the past four years, according to reports. The capture is a sign that Salvadoran authorities may now be setting their sights on the Texis Cartel, a low-profile network that has attracted little attention from law enforcement thanks to its preference for bribing public officials rather than using violence.
Medio Millon was something of an anomaly within the Texis Cartel. He surrounded himself with armed bodyguards, in contrast to one of the cartel's founding members, Jose Adan Salazar Umaña, who reportedly discourages the use of weapons. By hiring the Fulton Loco Salvatruchas to act as enforcers and assassins for his drug network, Medio Millon demonstrated his willingness to rely on violent tactics.
His arrest is a signal to other members of the Texis network that El Salvador's law enforcement is now willing to move against them, despite their links to local power networks in Chalatenango. As La Prensa Grafica reports, a police intelligence briefing says that Medio Millon and his family -- officially dedicated to ranching and agriculture -- have "a large network of friends in public institutions." The Cisneros family and the other heads of the Texis Cartel will likely make use of this network to stall or throw off other investigations into their activities.
Map, below, shows location of Medio Millon's arrest.
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