Salvadoran Judges Refuse to Extradite Traffickers to US

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Courts in El Salvador have refused to extradite two Guatemalan former military officers who are wanted by the U.S. on drug trafficking charges.

Juan Jose Pineda Vasquez and Genaro Pineda Rojas were convicted in El Salvador for trying to take two kilos of heroin on a flight to New York in June. They were sentenced to jail time, but it was substituted with community service, and they were released on Wednesday. The former soldiers were later re-captured by anti-drug agents, reports El Diario de Hoy, as there was an Interpol Red Notice out against them.

Three different courts in the city of Santa Ana refused to start extradition proceedings, on the grounds that no arrest warrant existed against the men.

The accused have been handed over to the Guatemalan Embassy, and will likely go free.

One judge criticized the decision of his compatriots, saying that it sends the message that El Salvador does not respect Interpol’s notices, and means that the country could become a haven for international criminals.

La Prensa Grafica reports that at least one of the ex-soldiers was in the Kaibiles, or Guatemalan Special Forces. As InSight has reported, members of this unit have been known to be recruited by Mexican drug trafficking organization the Zetas.

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