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
  • 10
Prev Next

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...