El Salvador News

Powerful El Salvador Kingpin 'Repollo' Gets 77 Years

Powerful El Salvador Kingpin 'Repollo' Gets 77 Years

The well-connected Salvadoran drug trafficker alias "Repollo" has been sentenced to 77 years in prison, following a trial that exposed a wide-ranging Central American cocaine smuggling network, in what is a rare victory for El Salvador's justice system. Read More

El Salvador Profile

El Salvador

El Salvador

El Salvador is a relatively small but growing player in the drug trafficking business, serving as a recipient and storage point along the Pacific Coast, and a bridge via the Pan-American Highway, the Fonseca Gulf, and small roads from Honduras that cut across the relatively unpopulated mountains. Local transport groups have their roots in the country’s civil war, when many ran weapons and contraband from Honduras and Nicaragua to the rebel groups. These networks now service larger criminal gangs, mostly from Mexico, moving drugs from as far south as Panama. Compounding the country’s problems are powerful street gangs, known as “maras,” which help make El Salvador one of the most dangerous places in the world, with a homicide rate of 69.2 per 100,000 in 2011 according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Significant drops in the homicide rate were registered in 2012 following a gang truce negotiated by the government, with national police reporting 2,576 murders compared to 4,371 in 2011. However, violence began to rise again after the gang truce broke down completely in 2014. 

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  • Powerful El Salvador Kingpin 'Repollo' Gets 77 Years

    Salvadoran drug trafficker "Repollo" (right)

    The well-connected Salvadoran drug trafficker alias "Repollo" has been sentenced to 77 years in prison, following a trial that exposed a wide-ranging Central American cocaine smuggling network, in what is a rare victory for El Salvador's justice system.

  • Alleged Drug Kingpin Absolved of Car Theft in El Salvador

    Roberto Antonio Herrera Hernandez, alias "El Burro"

    An alleged leader of the organized crime group Texis Cartel was found not guilty on charges of running a car theft ring, highlighting El Salvador's weakness in the face of high-level criminals who often possess greater resources than the state.

  • Summit on Central American Migrant Children Goes Nowhere

    Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez

    The meeting between Central American Presidents and US Vice President Joe Biden to deal with the crisis of “unaccompanied alien children” (UAC) from that region illustrated the sides remain far apart on policy prescription and how to finance a plan to help stem the flow of migrants northwards.

  • The El Salvador Gang Rebellion that Made Zacatecoluca Bleed: Part 2

    Gang members pose on Chinchontepec

    In the first photo, there’s three of them: the first guy is fully dressed in military garb, with olive green camouflage, and hoists an M-16 with a practiced pose: the index finger just outside the trigger, the retractable stock pointing upwards, and the barrel pointing at the ground. The next one is wearing a dark police uniform, a bulletproof vest and, on top of the vest, harnesses in which he’s carrying two extra magazines for the M-16 rifle he’s pointing to the sky. The National Civil Police (PNC) emblem is prominent on his right sleeve. The third one looks like the youngest. He’s also wearing a dark police uniform. He’s holding a long-barreled rifle in one hand and making a Barrio 18 gang sign with the other. The three are gang members.

  • The El Salvador Gang Rebellion that Made Zacatecoluca Bleed: Part 1

    Shooting victim Felipe Guardado (credit: Fred Ramos)

    In early 2014, a faction of El Salvador's Barrio 18 gang known at the Revolutionaries decided to kill one of their own. Upon finding this out, rather than trying to hide, the condemned man declared war against his own gang. Since then, in the city of Zacatecoluca and along the sides of the Chichontepec volcano, everyone has been sleeping with one eye open and one hand on the trigger: gang members, municipal police agents, other police and farmers. It's an area that's become a battle zone, where everyone has decided to impose their version of the law by gunfire. Residents are now asking what will happen once everything has gone up in flames.

  • Report Details How El Salvador Gangs Use Rape As Weapon

    The shoes of a woman murdered in El Salvador

    An article on sexual violence and femicide in El Salvador demonstrates the alarming extent to which gang members use rape to terrorize local communities and the degree to which this practice forms a part of gang culture.

  • Witness Testimony in Narco Trial Describes CentAm Cocaine Corridor

    Jorge Ulloa Sibrian, alias "Repollo"

    Trial testimony from the self-described right-hand man of alleged El Salvador drug trafficker "Repollo" has provided a snapshot of the workings of Central American drug transport networks and the trafficking chain that stretches from Colombia to the United States.

  • El Salvador Squashes Talk of Dialogue With Gangs

    Members of the El Salvador's security council

    El Salvador's new national security council has denied reports that it will re-open dialogues with the country's principal street gangs, essentially putting a nail in the coffin of a national gang truce that appeared to dramatically lower murder rates, before breaking down. 

  • The Stalled Money Laundering Case against El Salvador's 'Chepe Diablo'

    Jose Adan Salazar Umaña (right)

    The financial records and bank accounts of Texis Cartel leader Jose Adan Salazar Umaña are full of holes, according to audits linked to a tax evasion probe against him, but the money laundering case against him remains frozen.

  • El Salvador's Barrio 18, MS13 Learn to Farm

    El Salvador gang members learning to farm

    A new initiative is teaching gang members in El Salvador vocational skills like farming and carpentry work, in an encouraging sign of government efforts to rehabilitate gang members rather than relying solely on repressive measures to address crime.