Corruption in El Salvador: Top Police Officials Used ‘Fake’ Qualifications

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El Salvador authorities knew 15 top police officials had allegedly used false qualifications to move up to career ladder but did nothing about it, highlighting the entrenched corruption and impunity that facilitates organized crime.

The names of nine current commissioners, five chief inspectors and an inspector from the El Salvador National Police (PNC) appear in a 2001 Attorney General’s office investigation into false qualifications obtained by newspaper El Mundo.

The officials all obtained qualifications from universities later closed down for irregularities, including one that was found to be operating out of a private home with no classrooms, teachers, or students.They then used the qualifications to gain access to training programs and to allow them to increase their rank within the force.

Among the fifteen are: Commissioner Hector Mendoza Cordero, the current Deputy Director of Investigations and a member of the National Disciplinary Tribunal, who has been accused of corruption and links to the Texis Cartel; Godofredo Adalberto Miranda Martinez, an advisor to the head of the PNC who has been accused of drug trafficking and links to the criminal group the Perrones; Angel Barquero Silva, a former local Interpol chief; and Marco Mariona Escalante, who currently occupies the highly sensitive role of head of the Telecommunications Interception Center.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is no secret that organized crime in El Salvador has close ties to the national police and that this corruption runs through the organization, from street level to top officials.

What this case underscores is not that corruption exists but the scale of the challenge faced by those looking to uproot it. The officials were identified as fraud suspects as early as 2001, yet instead of facing further investigation they have risen through the ranks unimpeded, reaching some of the highest and most sensitive posts in the El Salvador police.

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Along the way, many of them have become embroiled in serious scandals, related either to their personal conduct or their suspected criminal ties. However, these too have failed to provoke disciplinary action or be any obstacle to the men rising through the ranks.

As long as such impunity remains characteristic of how the El Salvador police operate, then the institution’s role as protector and facilitator of organized crime will continue.

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