Salvadoran drug trafficker Juan Colorado.

Authorities in El Salvador said that nine people arrested on drug charges this week were working for the organization of an imprisoned leader of a transportation group known as the Perrones, highlighting how the group remains a force in El Salvador's underworld despite the arrests and sentencing of key leaders.

Since 2009, authorities said, the nine had been smuggling cocaine moving through El Salvador and to destinations on the East coast of the US, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Boston, according to local prosecutors quoted on ElSalvador.com.

The prosecutors added that the group was "connected to the structure of Juan Maria Medrano." Medrano, better known by his alias "Juan Colorado," is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence after being convicted on drug charges last year.

Colorado was one of the founding members of the Perrones, El Salvador’s most infamous transportista or smuggling group. He was arrested in 2008 alongside other Perrones leaders, including Reynerio Flores Lazo, Daniel Quezada, Wilfredo Antonio Reyes Martinez, and Carlos Armando Umanzor. Dozens of police and judicial officials were also connected to this network, which operates mostly from the eastern part of this small country.   

InSight Crime Analysis

Since suffering the loss of key figures such as Colorado, the Perrones have successfully regrouped and reasserted their influence in El SalvadorAs InSight Crime has reported, the group has re-established smuggling networks and infrastructure, and it has cemented alliances with international organizations such as Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. It may also be seeking to expand its operations into other parts of the region, even while it continues to have a strong presence in neighboring countries such as Honduras.

Many of the cases against the Perrones leadership have now unraveled, leaving them free or facing minor charges. Of those that are still serving lengthy sentences, intelligence reports suggest Reynerio Flores continues to coordinate trafficking activities.

Before his arrest, Juan Colorado was responsible for establishing and maintaining the East coast smuggling routes used by the recently arrested group and was the first of the Perrones smugglers to move drugs directly to the US. The fact that these routes are still active and that investigators still consider Colorado as the head of a trafficking structure suggests he may also still be active despite his imprisonment.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.