Was the Assassination of El Salvador’s ‘Chepe Luna’ a Criminal Hit or Just Business?

SHARETweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+

The alleged leader of El Salvador’s Los Perrones drug running group “Chepe Luna” has been assassinated in Honduras, raising questions about whether he was killed because of his business operations in the legal world or criminal activities. 

On June 26, Salvadoran businessman Jose Natividad Luna Pereira, alias “Chepe Luna,” was shot and killed near the entrance to his transport company in Tegucigalpa, reported El Heraldo.

Authorities pursued the attackers, killing two and arresting four, although at least eight were believed to be involved, reported La Tribuna.

The attackers had been driving a pickup truck — which they later abandoned — and were armed with rifles and pistols.

Although Luna’s family said they did not know who was responsible, they suspected gang members might be behind the attack.

InSight Crime Analysis

Luna was a prominent figure in both Central America’s legitimate business world and the criminal underworld, and likely had enemies in both spheres. In addition to being the owner of a successful transportation company — Transportes Ulua — he was also the alleged leader of Los Perrones, a criminal group involved in smuggling. Los Perrones transport drugs and other contraband for Colombian and Mexican criminal groups as well as facilitating human trafficking, and are believed to have ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas. 

In spite of his alleged criminal activities, Luna was never sentenced to prison. He was arrested in El Salvador several times and once in Honduras in 2012, but always managed to evade convictions.

US authorities considered Luna one of Central America’s most important human traffickers and had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

SEE ALSO: Chepe Luna Profile

A Salvadoran source told InSight Crime that Luna’s assassination may have been the result of competition related to his legitimate transportation business, rather than the result of his role in the criminal underworld. According to the source, he may have been killed by business rivals in an attempt to gain control of transport routes and territory.

Los Perrones also have a history of infighting and have previously battled with El Salvador’s major gangs, Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha, for control of smuggling routes. Either of these groups could also be behind the attack. 

SHARETweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+