While Reynerio Flores is serving an 80-year jail term, he remains one of the most notorious and important leaders of Perrones, one of the most significant cocaine smuggling gangs in the El Salvador - Honduras corridor.
Like many of his fellow leaders of Los Perrones, Flores has humble beginnings in the world of Salvadoran crime: a native of the eastern border region, he first started out bringing water in from Honduras by mule. He later linked up with other veterans of logistical networks that moved milk, cheese, and other basic staples across the Honduran border to form Perrones, which was also called the “Cartel de los Quesos.”
Reynerio Flores Factbox
Group: Los Perrones
Criminal Activities: Drug trafficking, drug dealing
Area of Operation: El Salvador, Central America
The Perrones became one of the most important groups of “transportistas” thanks to their ability to slip shipments of drugs past the Honduran border and the Guatemalan borders, where they deliver loads to Mexican groups like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. The group helps transport cocaine into the country via overland routes, through other Central American nations, in an armada of trucks owned by Flores’ trucking company.
Flores has long been fingered as one of the foremost leaders of the Perrones, and has attracted the interest of various foreign security agencies. A Salvadoran customs official first pointed him out as a smuggler in 2001. In 2004, Costa Rican authorities sent a report to their Salvadoran colleagues accusing Flores of running cocaine through the country with his trucking company. Nicaraguan officials also pressured Salvadoran authorities about Flores activities around the same time. By 2007, with the pressure mounting, Salvadoran prosecutors had begun to build a case against Flores.
After fleeing imminent arrest in his home country, Flores was arrested in 2009 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on charges of drug trafficking, and later extradited to El Salvador. Today he is serving an 80 year sentence for drug trafficking.
Flores got his start working along the Honduran-Guatemala border, smuggling drugs and contraband back and forth. His operations would alter expand to include Central American more generally – he was convicted of drug trafficking cases in Nicaragua and Costa Rica – trafficking cocaine from Panama to Guatemala.
Allies and Enemies
Reyes had the backing of the Perrones network, which appeared to form alliances of convenience with local criminal groups, such as the maras, to smuggle drugs. There is also evidence of the Sinaloa cartel hiring Flores to smuggle drugs to Guatemala and money to Panama.
In January 2012, Flores was sentenced to four 20-year prison terms, one for each of the cases of drug trafficking for which he was convicted. He is currently serving his term in the Zacatecoluca maximum-security prison, known as Zacatraz. Since his imprisonment, the level of his involvement with the Perrones operations remains unclear.
- "Organzed Crime in El Salvador: the Homegrown and Transnational Dimensions (pdf)," Doug Farah for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, December 2010.
- “Drug Trafficking Organizations in Central America: Transportistas, Mexican Cartels and Maras (pdf),” Steven Dudley for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, May 2010.