An El Salvador court has finally convicted a businessman linked to criminal network the Texis Cartel on arms charges, but authorities appear no closer to the group’s drug and money laundering activities or their web of top level corrupt contacts.
Real estate mogul and loan shark Leonel Sandoval has been sentenced to four years in prison in an arms possession case that dates back to a raid on his property in 2010, when police discovered a small arsenal of illegal weapons, reported La Prensa Grafica.
Following the raid, Sandoval paid the $100,000 bail in cash, then technically went on the lam. However, when prosecutors caught up with him in 2013, it was revealed his time as a fugitive had been spent running his businesses and living in his Santa Ana home.
In November 2013, the charges against him were dropped on a technicality when a local court ruled the evidence was inadmissible as the search warrant was related to suspect business dealings rather than weapons.
However, prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice, which ordered a retrial, leading to his conviction.
InSight Crime Analysis
Sandoval is an alleged associate of the ring of businessmen and criminals that form the Texis Cartel, a loose knit organization dedicated to money laundering and drug trafficking.
Over the last two years, authorities have tried to break down the wall of impunity the group’s leaders have built up through high-level contacts in the security forces, the judicial system and politics, but have had limited success.
As with the Sandoval case, these cases have focused on activities outside of drugs and money laundering and the results have been mixed.
One of the cartel’s key figures, Roberto “El Burro” Herrera, was charged with running a car theft ring after he was arrested in 2013. He was found not guilty in November last year, but remains in preventative custody while investigations into his alleged drug ties continue.
SEE ALSO: Texis Cartel Profile
The cartel’s alleged leader, Jose Adan Salazar Umaña, alias “El Chepe Diablo,” was charged with tax evasion along with two associates. However, he walked free in August last year after settling his unpaid bills.
Sandoval, meanwhile, may be the first alleged Texis Cartel associate to be convicted, but he is likely to only serve a fraction of an already short sentence.
Critically, none of the investigations reached anywhere near the corrupt officials that have allowed the network to flourish with such impunity, and both the group’s criminal and corruption networks likely remain largely untouched by the recent legal cases.