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

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

The Infiltrators: Corruption in El Salvador's Police

Ricardo Mauricio Menesses Orellana liked horses, and the Pasaquina rodeo was a great opportunity to enjoy a party. He was joined at the event -- which was taking place in the heart of territory controlled by El Salvador's most powerful drug transport group, the Perrones -- by the...

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

MS-13's 'El Barney': A Trend or an Isolated Case?

In October 2012, the US Treasury Department designated the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). While this assertion seems unfounded, there is one case that illustrates just why the US government is worried about the future.

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

'Chepe Luna,' the Police and the Art of Escape

The United States -- which through its antinarcotics, judicial and police attaches was very familiar with the routes used for smuggling, and especially those used for people trafficking and understood that those traffickers are often one and the same -- greeted the new government of Elias Antonio...

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 Leader 'Viejo Lin' on El Salvador Gang Truce

Barrio 18 leader Carlos Lechuga Mojica, alias "El Viejo Lin," is one of the most prominent spokesmen for El Salvador's gang truce. InSight Crime co-director Steven Dudley spoke with Mojica in Cojutepeque prison in October 2012 about how the maras view the controversial peace process, which has...

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

Criminalization of FARC Elements Inevitable

While there is no doubt that the FARC have only a tenuous control over some of their more remote fronts, there is no evidence of any overt dissident faction within the movement at the moment.

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

The FARC 1964-2002: From Ragged Rebellion to Military Machine

On May 27, 1964 up to one thousand Colombian soldiers, backed by fighter planes and helicopters, launched an assault against less than fifty guerrillas in the tiny community of Marquetalia. The aim of the operation was to stamp out once and for all the communist threat in...

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

The Reality of the FARC Peace Talks in Havana

If we are to believe the Colombian government, the question is not if, but rather when, an end to 50 years of civil conflict will be reached. Yet the promise of President Juan Manuel Santos that peace can be achieved before the end of 2014 is simply...

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC and the Drug Trade: Siamese Twins?

The FARC have always had a love-hate relationship with drugs. They love the money it brings, funds which have allowed them to survive and even threaten to topple the state at the end of the 1990s. They hate the corruption and stigma narcotics have also brought to...

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

Ivan Rios Bloc: the FARC's Most Vulnerable Fighting Division

When considering the possibilities that the FARC may break apart, the Ivan Rios Bloc is a helpful case study because it is perhaps the weakest of the FARC's divisions in terms of command and control, and therefore runs the highest risk of fragmentation and criminalization.