An ongoing trial in El Salvador has included assertions that a gang leader was in regular contact with politicians and other government officials, even though the country's former president recently said that the truce involved no direct contact between the two. 

Evidence gathered from the cell phone of suspected gang member Rubén Antonio Rosa Lovo, who faces extortion charges along with 67 other suspected gang members, suggests that government officials were in contact with top gang leaders during the 2012-2013 gang truce, reported La Prensa Grafica.

According to prosecutors, forensic analysis of the purported gang leader's phone suggests that Rosa Lovo was in contact with "a congressman" and "a former security minister."

SEE ALSO: Coverage of El Salvador Gang Truce

Communications recovered from the suspected gang leader's phone reportedly detail a conversation in which Rosa Lovo agrees to supply votes to a particular lawmaker in exchange for cooperation and support of the now-defunct gang truce.

Both David Munguía Payés and Ricardo Perdomo served as security minister for former President Mauricio Funes at different times during the era of the gang truce.

While the truce was active, major gangs like the MS13 and Barrio 18 committed to halting violence, and homicide levels fell accordingly. Funes has recently asserted that the government was not directly involved in negotiating with the gangs, and merely supported the mediators who helped brokered the truce. 

InSight Crime Analysis

El Salvador's gang truce was controversial from the very beginning. Recently, however, critics seem to be growing bolder in their attempts to impugn the actions of the previous administration, while Funes appears to be ever more eager to disown the government's alleged role in the initiative. 

The ongoing trial covered by La Prensa Grafica is not the only case in which court evidence appeared to point to contact between gang leaders and key officials. In a previous case, a protected witness reportedly testified that gang truce mediator Raul Mijango -- one of those mediators that the Funes government has said it supported -- approved of a gang attack on a police station. 

SEE ALSO:  El Salvador News and Profiles

Critics of the gang truce have argued that the initiative gave the Barrio 18 and MS13 the breathing room they needed to reorganize, consolidate, and strengthen. One concern is whether the truce allowed the gangs -- in particular the MS13 -- to become more sophisticated criminal structures, capable of smuggling drugs or weapons internationally. 

The US Treasury Department appeared to signal that this may be the case, after announcing new sanctions against MS13 gang leaders for "orchestrating assassination campaigns against Salvadoran law enforcement, military, and government officials." The Treasury Department first designated the MS13 as a transnational criminal organizations (TCO) in 2012. 

The new sanctions from Treasury weigh in unambiguously on the side of those who believe the gang truce strengthened the MS13. Along with assertions that government officials were in closer contact with gang members than they now claim, all this ultimately makes it harder for anyone to propose working with the gangs to reduce violence and death tolls. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions of ...

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The Victory of the Urabeños - The New Face of Colombian Organized Crime

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

50 years of the FARC: War, Drugs and Revolution

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

 Mexico’s Security Dilemma: Michoacan’s Militias

Well-armed vigilantes in Mexico's Michoacan state have helped authorities dismantle a powerful criminal organization, but now the government may have a more difficult task: keeping Michoacan safe from the vigilantes and rival criminal groups.

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

After the lower house passed the controversial marijuana bill July 31, Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug, and provide a model for countries looking for alternatives to the world’s dominant drug policy paradigm. ...

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

El Salvador's Gang Truce: Positives And Negatives

Whether it is sustainable or not, the truce -- which the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 put into place March 2012 -- has changed the conventional thinking about who the gangs are and what is the best way to handle the most difficult law and order ...

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is in sight. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, for themselves and especially for their children, the enemies of the peace negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the ...

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Corruption in El Salvador: Politicians, Police and Transportistas

Since the end of El Salvador's civil war, the country's police has become a key player in the underworld. This series of five articles explore the dark ties between criminal organizations and the government's foremost crime fighting institution.

Juarez after the War

Juarez after the War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality. InSight Crime looks at the role politicians, police, and for-hire street gangs played in the fighting -- asking who ...