1677375142 The US Attorneys Office points to Bukele officials for negotiating

The U.S. Attorney’s Office points to Bukele officials for negotiating with the MS-13 between 2019 and 2021

Members of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs inspect a Salvadoran prison in March 2022.Members of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs inspect a Salvadoran prison in March 2022. Anadolu Agency (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A prosecutor’s indictment against 13 Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) leaders in a federal court in upstate New York alleges two senior officials in Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s government negotiated with the gang a reduction in homicides in exchange for benefits between them 2019 and 2021. According to the document released by the Justice Department on Thursday, the executive branch of the millennial president, who is now waging a “war” on gangs, initially opted for a trial of at least two years to seek a reduction in homicides , which would benefit his popularity.

Although the indictment was officially filed in New York City District Court on August 22, 2022, it was not released until Thursday after the arrest of three gang leaders in hiding and operating in Mexico, who are among the 13 accused. The three captured gang members are Vladimir Antonio Arévalo Chávez, aka Vampiro of Monserrat Criminales; Walter Yovani Hernández Rivera, aka Baxter of Park View, and Marlon Antonio Menjívar Portillo, aka Rojo of Park View.

The tax document describes a range of transnational criminal activities by MS-13, but also mentions the gang’s secret negotiations with previous Salvadorian governments as well as the current one. According to the report presented to the court, since Bukele came to power in June 2019, two senior officials in his government have repeatedly met with gang leaders in maximum security prisons and, on a few occasions, have been accompanied by other gang leaders enjoying freedom. The subjects entered the prisons in dark clothing, face coverings and long-sleeved shirts to cover their tattoos.

The two officials mentioned are Osiris Luna, Director General of Prisons, and Carlos Marroquín, Director of the Unit for the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric. Both officers were sanctioned by the State Department in December 2021 over the same allegations.

According to the indictment, Bukele officials obtained a drastic reduction in homicides in order to boost his popularity in exchange for prison benefits, gang law changes and reduced sentences. The gang also offered to use their influence over their members, family members and residents of the controlled communities to guarantee the victory of President Bukele’s party, Nuevas Ideas, in the February 2021 mayoral and deputy elections.

In exchange, the gang also demanded a guarantee against the extradition of the top leaders to the United States. Between 2021 and 2022, the United States Department of Justice sought the extradition of 12 MS-13 members who are part of the leadership of the gang called Ranfla. To date, however, the government has not complied with the request.

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One of the leaders being extradited is Elmer Canales Rivera, aka El Crook. Canales Rivera was arrested in El Salvador in February 2021. Four months after his arrest, the United States requested his extradition. However, “the government of El Salvador released Canales Rivera from custody, despite INTERPOL’s red notice and the pending extradition request from the United States,” the document said.

In May 2022, the Salvadorian digital medium El Faro released a series of audios in which Carlos Marroquín, director of Tejido Social, is heard saying that he himself released Crook from prison and later left him in Guatemala to show “loyalty and trust”. demonstrate The group. A year earlier, El Faro also published that the Bukele government had negotiated with the gangs and tried to cover up the evidence.

MS-13 Terrorist Operations

The prosecutor’s indictment against 13 MS-13 leaders reveals that the gang “ordered an increase in violence across the United States, including murders,” as revenge for believing that country’s government influenced them to form the first compact , with which the gang was closed, end Salvadoran authorities in 2012 under the administration of former President Mauricio Funes.

According to the document, after the ceasefire was broken in early 2015, the gang began organizing a response and ordered all of their “programs” to raise money to buy guns and assembled a team of 200 gang members to give them a special to provide training in the fields. military type. The aim of the tax investigation was to kill Salvadoran police officers.

MS-13 managed to get its cells in the United States to collect money and send it to El Salvador via third parties, while its agents in Mexico were responsible for procuring the weapons. In retaliation, MS-13 also ordered the killing of an FBI agent. Although this fact was not carried out.

Expansion of MS-13 in Mexico

The document describes that the MS-13 created a program called “Mexico” and sent Ranfla representatives to that country to expand and improve its structure with the idea of ​​having a sort of second command in case the Salvadoran government it manages to dismantle itself

To fund itself, the Mexico program took some migration routes on which it charged fees “against security” with the permission of the Mexican cartels. Migrants who failed to pay the fee were thrown off the train tracks, mutilated or disappeared, the document said.

They also used control of the route to bring MS-13 leaders to the United States and spot enemies or defectors from the same gang fleeing to the United States.

MS-13 also bought drugs from Mexican cartels to sell in El Salvador and established ties with Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel, the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Currently, Mexican authorities are reporting an increase in gang members in Mexico arriving via the southern border as one of the effects of the “war on gangs” that has reached the dismantling of MS-13 in El Salvador. However, there is no sign that the structure in Mexico is strengthening.

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