{"code":"25670","sect":"El Salvador","sect_slug":"el-salvador","hits":"16790","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202108\/el_salvador\/25670","link_edit":"","name":"Criminal Investigation Found the Bukele Administration Hid Evidence of Negotiations with Gangs","slug":"criminal-investigation-found-the-bukele-administration-hid-evidence-of-negotiations-with-gangs","info":"Salvadoran prosecutors found evidence that the Bukele administration negotiated with MS-13 and both factions of Barrio 18 for a national reduction in homicides, and discovered that the Bureau of Prisons removed hundreds of logbooks and hard drives documenting the talks. The attorney general overseeing the case was illegally removed from office before pressing charges, and the special prosecutors\u2019 unit handling the case was dissolved. Leer en espa\u00f1ol","mtag":"Gangs","noun":{"html":"\u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/cmartinez'\u003E Carlos Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/span\u003E, \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/gcaceres'\u003E Gabriela C\u00e1ceres\u003C\/span\u003E y \u003Cspan class='tint-text--dark' data_href='\/user\/profile\/omartinez'\u003E \u00d3scar Mart\u00ednez\u003C\/span\u003E","data":{"carlos-martinez":{"sort":"cmartinez","slug":"carlos-martinez","path":"carlos_martinez","name":"Carlos Mart\u00ednez","edge":"0","init":"0"},"gabriela-caceres":{"sort":"gcaceres","slug":"gabriela-caceres","path":"gabriela_caceres","name":"Gabriela C\u00e1ceres","edge":"0","init":"1"},"oscar-martinez":{"sort":"omartinez","slug":"oscar-martinez","path":"oscar_martinez","name":"\u00d3scar Mart\u00ednez","edge":"1","init":"0"}}},"view":"16790","pict":{"cms-image-000036238-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36238","name":"cms-image-000036238.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036238.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036238.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036238-jpg","text":"<p>Luna (labeled 1) and four men in balaclavas meet with more than 20 prisoners on April 2, 2020. An internal prison report noted that they brought with them dominoes, chess, and \"four special Bibles.\"<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003ELuna (labeled 1) and four men in balaclavas meet with more than 20 prisoners on April 2, 2020. An internal prison report noted that they brought with them dominoes, chess, and \"four special Bibles.\"\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036239-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36239","name":"cms-image-000036239.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036239.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036239.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036239-jpg","text":"<p>Hay tres fotos de Osiris y los cuatro encapuchados (l\u00e1mina 28). Queda constancia del ingreso de Marroqu\u00edn en la l\u00e1mina 32, informe rendido por el inspector Isabel Mart\u00ednez S\u00e1nchez.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EHay tres fotos de Osiris y los cuatro encapuchados (l\u00e1mina 28). Queda constancia del ingreso de Marroqu\u00edn en la l\u00e1mina 32, informe rendido por el inspector Isabel Mart\u00ednez S\u00e1nchez.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036240-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36240","name":"cms-image-000036240.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036240.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036240.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036240-jpg","text":"<p>From left to right, in Zacatecoluca Prison: Edwin Ernesto Cedillos Rodr\u00edguez (also known as Renuente) and Borromeo Enrique Henr\u00edquez (Diablo of Hollywood), two of the most senior leaders of MS-13. U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York requested the extradition of Diablo de Hollywood in January 2021, though the process has stalled in El Salvador's Supreme Court.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EFrom left to right, in Zacatecoluca Prison: Edwin Ernesto Cedillos Rodr\u00edguez (also known as Renuente) and Borromeo Enrique Henr\u00edquez (Diablo of Hollywood), two of the most senior leaders of MS-13. U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York requested the extradition of Diablo de Hollywood in January 2021, though the process has stalled in El Salvador's Supreme Court.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036241-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36241","name":"cms-image-000036241.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036241.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036241.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036241-jpg","text":"<p>Prosecutors obtained this photograph of the \"removal of logbooks from maximum-security prison Izalco Phase III\" on August 11, 2020.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EProsecutors obtained this photograph of the \"removal of logbooks from maximum-security prison Izalco Phase III\" on August 11, 2020.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036242-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"36242","name":"cms-image-000036242.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036242.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036242.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036242-jpg","text":"<p>On March 31, 2020, Luna entered Zacatecoluca with four masked guests \"to meet with a group of prisoners,\" says the Operation Cathedral case file. Prosecutors obtained an internal prison report to the warden stating that the delegation met with eight leaders from El Salvador's three major gangs: MS-13 and the Revolucionarios and Sure\u00f1os factions of Barrio 18.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EOn March 31, 2020, Luna entered Zacatecoluca with four masked guests \"to meet with a group of prisoners,\" says the Operation Cathedral case file. Prosecutors obtained an internal prison report to the warden stating that the delegation met with eight leaders from El Salvador's three major gangs: MS-13 and the Revolucionarios and Sure\u00f1os factions of Barrio 18.\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000036243-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"36243","name":"cms-image-000036243.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036243.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000036243.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000036243-jpg","text":"<p>El director de Centros Penales, Osiris Luna, en una de las im\u00e1genes recogidas por los fiscales del caso Catedral y tomada de las c\u00e1maras de vigilancia del penal de m\u00e1xima seguridad de Zacatecoluca. Lo acompa\u00f1an, seg\u00fan concluyeron los investigadores, encapuchados enviados por el Gobierno para negociar con los l\u00edderes pandilleros.<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EEl director de Centros Penales, Osiris Luna, en una de las im\u00e1genes recogidas por los fiscales del caso Catedral y tomada de las c\u00e1maras de vigilancia del penal de m\u00e1xima seguridad de Zacatecoluca. Lo acompa\u00f1an, seg\u00fan concluyeron los investigadores, encapuchados enviados por el Gobierno para negociar con los l\u00edderes pandilleros.\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":36243,"date":{"live":"2021\/08\/23"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2021","data_post_dateLive_MM":"08","data_post_dateLive_DD":"23","text":"\u003Cp id=\"docs-internal-guid-b5f6e55a-7fff-b248-9955-932dac221fbc\" dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAn investigation led by former Attorney General Ra\u00fal Melara found that the government of Nayib Bukele held negotiations in maximum-security prisons in 2020 with El Salvador\u2019s three main gangs: the Mara Salvatrucha 13, Barrio 18 Revolucionarios, and Barrio 18 Sure\u00f1os, criminal organizations classified in Salvadoran law as terrorists.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn exchange for their commitment to holding the national homicide rate at a historic low, the gangs demanded, among other conditions, improved prison conditions and increased employment opportunities for their members outside of prison.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Faro\u2019s revelation in September 2020 that \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202009\/el_salvador\/24785\/Bukele-Spent-A-Year-Negotiating-with-MS-13-for-a-Reduction-in-Homicides-and-Electoral-Support.htm\"\u003Ethe Bukele administration had been negotiating with MS-13 for at least a year\u003C\/a\u003E sparked raids by the Attorney General\u2019s Office to gather evidence on the negotiations, and the Bureau of Prisons (DGCP) reacted by removing hard drives and hundreds of logbooks documenting the negotiations from its facilities.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EUntil this April, Melara\u2019s office criminally investigated various members of the Bukele administration for their involvement in the negotiations in a sprawling probe codenamed Operation Cathedral. The unit of four prosecutors in charge of the case, the Special Anti-Mafia Group, was created in November of 2019 by chief anti-corruption prosecutor Germ\u00e1n Arriaza to investigate negotiations between FMLN politicians and gangs in the 2014 elections.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAfter El Faro published evidence of the Bukele administration\u2019s gang negotiations, the unit opened a criminal inquiry and raided Bureau of Prisons (DGCP) facilities and headquarters. For months, the unit tapped phone lines, followed suspects\u2019 physical movements, seized documents and hard drives, took photographs, and interviewed witnesses. Melara\u2019s Attorney General\u2019s Office made no arrests and filed no charges as part of the investigation.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThen, on May 1, the new Legislative Assembly, controlled by Bukele\u2019s Nuevas Ideas party, \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202105\/el_salvador\/25452\/Bukele\"\u003Eillegally removed Attorney General Melara from office\u003C\/a\u003E. The new attorney general, Rodolfo Delgado, then attempted to transfer the head of the Special Anti-Mafia Group, Arriaza, to a different unit, prompting Arriaza\u2019s resignation on May 7. In addition to Operation Cathedral, Arriaza was involved in investigations into illicit pandemic spending in the Ministries of Health and Agriculture.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThree sources from the Attorney General\u2019s Office told El Faro that Delgado\u2019s office dissolved the Special Anti-Mafia Group and reassigned its remaining prosecutors to other units following Arriaza\u2019s resignation.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThis newsroom reviewed part of the Operation Cathedral case file, analyzed photographs, compared these with documents previously obtained from the DGCP, confirmed prosecutors\u2019 findings with sources close to the negotiations, and sought comment from the public officials mentioned in this publication.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen asked for comment, the Attorney General's Office told El Faro that \"the investigations int the negotiations with gangs are ongoing.\" Both Melara and Arriaza declined requests for comment from El Faro. The Bureau of Prisons, Ministry of Government, President\u2019s Office, and Nuevas Ideas legislative bloc did not return requests for comment.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EOperation Cathedral\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn September 7, 2020, four days after El Faro published evidence that the current government of El Salvador had been \u003Ca href=\"\/en\/202009\/el_salvador\/24785\/Bukele-Spent-A-Year-Negotiating-with-MS-13-for-a-Reduction-in-Homicides-and-Electoral-Support.htm\"\u003Ecovertly negotiating a reduction in homicides with MS-13\u003C\/a\u003E, prosecutors raided the DGCP headquarters and multiple prisons to search for corroborating evidence. Their investigation turned up new documentation supporting El Faro\u2019s account that prisons director Osiris Luna authorized the unofficial entry of men in balaclavas into prison facilities to meet with incarcerated gang leaders, breaching entry protocols including the requirement that visitors identify themselves.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EProsecutors identified some of the men in balaclavas as officials from the General Directorate for the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric, an office within the Ministry of Government run by Carlos Marroqu\u00edn. They identified others as at-large gang leaders entering the prisons to receive instructions and trade information.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36243\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"El director de Centros Penales, Osiris Luna, en una de las im\u00e1genes recogidas por los fiscales del caso Catedral y tomada de las c\u00e1maras de vigilancia del penal de m\u00e1xima seguridad de Zacatecoluca. Lo acompa\u00f1an, seg\u00fan concluyeron los investigadores, encapuchados enviados por el Gobierno para negociar con los l\u00edderes pandilleros.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EEl director de Centros Penales, Osiris Luna, en una de las im\u00e1genes recogidas por los fiscales del caso Catedral y tomada de las c\u00e1maras de vigilancia del penal de m\u00e1xima seguridad de Zacatecoluca. Lo acompa\u00f1an, seg\u00fan concluyeron los investigadores, encapuchados enviados por el Gobierno para negociar con los l\u00edderes pandilleros.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EProsecutors also seized cell phones from an MS-13 leader and negotiator containing voice messages in which the gang coordinated details such as the disguises to be used by their members outside of prison to attend the negotiations. In one of the voice notes, a gang member talked with another about preparing for the negotiations, and noted that the government\u2019s representatives were on edge: \u201cThey\u2019re worried that we might make the slightest mistake, and they\u2019re taking care to not make the slightest mistake, so that this doesn\u2019t fail and so that the public doesn\u2019t find out that there\u2019s an understanding.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn other audio files extracted from the same phone, a member of MS-13 complained that homicides had risen in some turf controlled by MS-13, potentially jeopardizing the talks with the government: \u201cIn October there were more palmes (killings) than last year. We\u2019re going to lose what we\u2019ve gained in the casas (prisons). We increased the muebles (deaths) and we\u2019re gonna see the consequences in the casas.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn another audio, a gang member spoke of the gang\u2019s instructions from inside prison in Zacatecoluca to its membership in the streets. \u201cThe four (leaders in Zacatecoluca Prison) gave the word to Barbacoa, and we\u2019re following it because we\u2019re all toeing the same line from here to there, homie, all of us, right?\u201d he said. \u201cThe system knows we\u2019re headed to zero,\u201d he added, referring to the goal of zero homicides.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThese audio files also revealed the 19 demands that the gangs made of the Bukele administration in order for the agreement to continue. The gangs asked the government, for example, to cease large-scale anti-gang military and police operations, to put an end to indiscriminate persecution of their members \u201cjust because of their tattoos,\u201d to provide their members with employment opportunities and microfinancing for businesses, to allow conjugal visits in the prisons, and to make changes to the maximum security prison protocols. These demands are similar to those presented to OAS Secretary General Jos\u00e9 Miguel Insulza in 2012 amid the \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.especiales.elfaro.net\/es\/todosobrelatregua\/\"\u003Egang truce brokered by the administration of former president Mauricio Funes\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn a campaign to convince the public that it controls the prisons and can impose its will on the gangs, the government asserts that it merged the gangs into common cell blocks to hinder their internal organizations and activities. After El Faro published its investigation, detailing how the administration had agreed to resegregate cell blocks as a concession to the gangs, the Bureau of Prisons even invited the international press corps to come see for themselves that the cell blocks remained integrated. Prosecutors obtained evidence undermining this official narrative.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn August 8, 2020, the administration separated the various gangs locked up in the maximum-security prison in Zacatecoluca into different cell blocks. According to documents from the Attorney General\u2019s Office, the deputy director of prisons Carlos Aparicio spent nine hours at the prison that day coordinating the cell block transfers so that each gang would be confined to its own isolated block, directly contradicting the administration\u2019s public claims.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Faro\u2019s investigation concluded that Social Fabric was leading the negotiations on behalf of the government. Prosecutors\u2019 investigation confirmed that Carlos Marroqu\u00edn, the office\u2019s director, accompanied the men in balaclavas to attend the negotiations on various occasions and, despite covering his face, was identified by prison staff. Prosecutors also identified Dennis Fernando Salinas Berm\u00fadez, former deputy director of Social Fabric now working as Nuevas Ideas deputy for San Salvador in the legislature. Salinas\u2019s car entered prison facilities during the negotiations and prison staff identified him in their logbooks.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1193&ImageId=36238\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Luna (labeled 1) and four men in balaclavas meet with more than 20 prisoners on April 2, 2020. An internal prison report noted that they brought with them dominoes, chess, and \"four special Bibles.\"\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003ELuna (labeled 1) and four men in balaclavas meet with more than 20 prisoners on April 2, 2020. An internal prison report noted that they brought with them dominoes, chess, and \"four special Bibles.\"\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EProsecutors added another name to the list of involved government officials revealed by El Faro: V\u00edctor Manuel Mart\u00ednez Santana, known as Scar, who worked as director of Cultura Ciudadana \u2014 or Citizen Culture, a program within Social Fabric. Police arrested Scar in August of 2019 after he opened fire into the air in the middle of Los H\u00e9roes Boulevard in San Salvador while driving a car without license plates. Mart\u00ednez Santana, according to prosecutors\u2019 records, was part of the committees of balaclava-wearing negotiators to enter the maximum-security facilities Zacatecoluca and Izalco Phase III. Mart\u00ednez Santana is now the alternate deputy for Suecy Callejas, vice president of the Legislative Assembly and a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/mailchi.mp\/elfaro.net\/el-faro-english-technical-coup-detat-in-elsalvador-6212804\"\u003Eclose confidant of President Bukele\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnother key finding from Operation Cathedral is that Prisons Director Luna tried to eliminate evidence of the meetings between government officials and gang leaders and the covert balaclava visits. Just two days after the publication of El Faro\u2019s investigation, prison intelligence agents followed explicit orders from Director Luna in removing 221 logbooks from Zacatecoluca, as well as the hard drives of computers present in Izalco Phase III during the visits.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ENegotiations with Barrio 18\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe information gathered by the Attorney General\u2019s Office not only reveals previously unknown meetings between government officials and the leaders of not just one, but all three of El Salvador\u2019s main gangs.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEl Faro\u2019s first investigation into Bukele\u2019s gang negotiations primarily revealed evidence of the administration\u2019s talks with MS-13. But the newsroom also reported preliminary evidence supporting the hypothesis that the administration\u2019s negotiations extended beyond the Mara Salvatrucha.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36242\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"On March 31, 2020, Luna entered Zacatecoluca with four masked guests \"to meet with a group of prisoners,\" says the Operation Cathedral case file. Prosecutors obtained an internal prison report to the warden stating that the delegation met with eight leaders from El Salvador's three major gangs: MS-13 and the Revolucionarios and Sure\u00f1os factions of Barrio 18.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EOn March 31, 2020, Luna entered Zacatecoluca with four masked guests \"to meet with a group of prisoners,\" says the Operation Cathedral case file. Prosecutors obtained an internal prison report to the warden stating that the delegation met with eight leaders from El Salvador's three major gangs: MS-13 and the Revolucionarios and Sure\u00f1os factions of Barrio 18.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn an unspecified date, the investigation noted, Prisons Director Osiris Luna accompanied four unidentified individuals to a meeting with three of the most visible leaders of Barrio 18 Sure\u00f1os: Carlos Alberto Rivas Barahona (also known as Chino Tres Colas), Douglas Geovany Vel\u00e1squez Navas (Payaso), and Carlos Ernesto Mojica Lechuga (Viejo Lyn).\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EProsecutors obtained more details: for example, an internal report to the warden of Zacatecoluca, dated March 31, 2020, reported that Luna entered the facility alongside five unidentified visitors in balaclavas. The group arrived in two vehicles: a Land Cruiser assigned to Luna and another vehicle assigned to a National Civil Police officer.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ELuna and the prison warden remained outside while the men who entered the facility in balaclavas met with eight leaders from El Salvador\u2019s three gangs. From the Revolucionarios faction of Barrio 18 attended three of the gang\u2019s most visible leaders from the 2012 gang truce: V\u00edctor Garc\u00eda Cer\u00f3n (Duke), Jeffrey Isaac P\u00e9rez L\u00f3pez (Xochil), and Rub\u00e9n Arnoldo Toledo Cea (El Humilde). Erick Sa\u00fal Villalobos (Pitoreta), profiled by the National Civil Police as one of the national leaders of the Sure\u00f1os faction of Barrio 18, also attended.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EPresent from MS-13 were Borromeo Enrique Henr\u00edquez (Diablo de Hollywood) and Tiberio Ram\u00edrez Valladares (Snyder de Pasadena), two members of the Ranfla Nacional, or national leadership, along with lower-profile leaders Elvis Enrique Mej\u00eda (Sayco) and Daniel Jerem\u00edas Brizuela Soriano (Kilo de City Para\u00edsos).\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ETwo days later, on April 2, Luna returned to Zacatecoluca in his government-issued Land Cruiser with four unidentified visitors in balaclavas. Prosecutors obtained photographs of the delegation walking through the facility on their way to meet behind closed doors with leaders from Barrio 18: five from the Revolucionarios faction, including Duke and Xochil, and one from the rival Sure\u00f1os, V\u00edctor Manuel Figueroa Le\u00f3n (Bad Boy), as noted in a report to the warden.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ERemoval of Evidence\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EProsecutors\u2019 records reviewed by El Faro also show how the Bureau of Prisons (DGCP) reacted to El Faro\u2019s publication of evidence of the government\u2019s negotiations with MS-13.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn September 5, 2020, two days after publication, Prisons Director Osiris Luna traveled to the prison facility in Zacatecoluca with \u201cDGCP information technology personnel,\u201d according to prosecutors\u2019 review of multiple staff logbooks. They entered the facility at 6:45 p.m. to \u201cremove computer hard drives\u201d and \u201cchange drives.\u201d Those drives contain video footage of visitors entering the facility and other information including wilas, or communication from gang leaders in prison to their membership in the streets.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1153&ImageId=36241\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Prosecutors obtained this photograph of the \"removal of logbooks from maximum-security prison Izalco Phase III\" on August 11, 2020.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EProsecutors obtained this photograph of the \"removal of logbooks from maximum-security prison Izalco Phase III\" on August 11, 2020.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe purge of evidence corroborating El Faro\u2019s investigation continued at 10:45 the next morning when two DGCP employees traveled to Zacatecoluca \u201cto remove 221 logbooks from all of the facility\u2019s operating stations...in coordination with the director and deputy director of the facility and following the instructions of Osiris Luna.\u201d Prosecutors claim that the logbooks were taken to the DGCP archives in Planes de Renderos, and it\u2019s unclear whether prosecutors ultimately obtained them.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cThey can\u2019t take the logbooks nor add pages,\u201d a judge with knowledge of prison management told El Faro on condition of anonymity, to avoid removal from future case work. The judge continued: \u201cThat documentation is a sort of control, and anyone doing so is hiding potential evidence.\u201d Another source with intimate knowledge of DGCP procedures, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, called the removal of the hard drives and logbooks \u201ctotally abnormal.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen DGCP employees arrived on September 6 to remove the 221 logbooks, the books recording Luna\u2019s trip to the facility on September 5 were still in use and thus remained at the facility. When prosecutors raided Zacatecoluca, Izalco Phase III, and the DGCP headquarters on September 7 in search of evidence corroborating the reporting, they obtained these very logbooks that were left behind.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt the time of the prosecutors\u2019 raids, Luna and his employees hadn\u2019t only removed the hard drives and hundreds of logbooks. In an effort to demonstrate that the members of different gangs remained integrated in the same cell blocks, as the administration asserts in public, the DGCP invited reporters to tour the prison facilities, with one exception: Zacatecoluca.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn an internal report dated August 8, 2020, less than a month before El Faro published its investigation, Zacatecoluca warden Rogelio Garc\u00eda noted that DGCP deputy director Carlos Aparicio entered the facility and ordered the sale of \u201cPollo Campero, Campestre, pupusas, pizza, and homestyle cooking\u201d at the commissary before proceeding to reorganize the cell blocks to separate the gangs.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAn internal report to Izalco warnen Rafael Antonio Jim\u00e9nez Ramos obtained by prosecutors and dated that same day, August 8, asserts that Luna traveled to Izalco Phase III with the DGCP\u2019s head of information technology and head of intelligence to \u201clook for information from the system of cameras from January 11, May 13, and August 7, 2020. They downloaded videos from the cameras and copied them onto an external hard drive.\u201d The dates of these videos coincide with Luna\u2019s visits alongside the men in balaclavas to Izalco Phase III, as reported in El Faro\u2019s September 2020 investigation.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn the weeks prior to publication, the involved reporters noted stalking and surveillance at their homes, including by plateless cars with tinted windows and two passengers. El Faro reported these behaviors \u003Ca href=\"\/es\/202102\/el_salvador\/25215\/CIDH-emite-medidas-de-protecci%C3%B3n-para-todo-el-personal-de-El-Faro.htm?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=ElSalvador&utm_content=CIDH_emite_medidas_de_protecci%C3%B3n_para_todo_el_personal_de_El_Faro\"\u003Eto the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights\u003C\/a\u003E and to the Attorney General\u2019s Office.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEvidence suggests that the government knew that this newsroom was investigating its negotiations with gangs, to the point that, on September 1, two days prior to publication, President Bukele tweeted: \u201cThose doing \u2018periodismo inc\u00f3modo\u2019 (in reference to El Faro\u2019s marketing campaign,\u00a0 \u2018uncomfortable journalism\u2019 ) are surely preparing a smokescreen to pull one of their sellout reporters out of the mud. No sleep today, only typing away. It must be ugly to call yourself a journalist and accuse others in return for money. Being trash.\u201d\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOn the day of the publication of the investigation showing dozens of official DGCP documents, Bukele tweeted about the newsroom more than a dozen times. \u201cYou can recognize a smokescreen because it\u2019s never accompanied by videos, photos, audio, or formal accusations. It\u2019s only \u2018sources say,\u2019\u201d he wrote in one of the tweets. Meanwhile, in the ensuing days, DGCP employees continued removing evidence of the negotiations from the maximum-security facilities.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EExtradition to the United States\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAt least one of the gang leaders involved in the negotiations with the Bukele administration is facing terrorism charges in New York State.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThis January, U.S. prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.justice.gov\/usao-edny\/pr\/ms-13-s-highest-ranking-leaders-charged-terrorism-offenses-united-states\"\u003Eunsealed terrorism charges\u003C\/a\u003E against 14 senior MS-13 leaders, including Borromeo Enrique Henr\u00edquez (also known as Diablo de Hollywood), a prominent figure in the Bukele administration\u2019s gang negotiations. The U.S. Justice Department noted that Henr\u00edquez \u201cis widely recognized as the most powerful member of the Ranfla Nacional (or national leadership).\u201d The department thanked Melara for his office\u2019s cooperation in building their case.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\t\t\u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=\"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=36240\" class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"From left to right, in Zacatecoluca Prison: Edwin Ernesto Cedillos Rodr\u00edguez (also known as Renuente) and Borromeo Enrique Henr\u00edquez (Diablo of Hollywood), two of the most senior leaders of MS-13. U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York requested the extradition of Diablo de Hollywood in January 2021, though the process has stalled in El Salvador's Supreme Court.\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"pict__line block edge--ss_lax edge--ss_rax padd--ss_l0x padd--ss_r0x line--ss_s0b lineh rule--ss_c\"\u003E\u003Cspan class=\"block-inline full-width align-middle lineh__rect tint-back--nake\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003EFrom left to right, in Zacatecoluca Prison: Edwin Ernesto Cedillos Rodr\u00edguez (also known as Renuente) and Borromeo Enrique Henr\u00edquez (Diablo of Hollywood), two of the most senior leaders of MS-13. U.S. prosecutors in the Southern District of New York requested the extradition of Diablo de Hollywood in January 2021, though the process has stalled in El Salvador's Supreme Court.\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/figcaption\u003E\u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe United States is seeking the extradition of an additional MS-13 leader on terrorism charges: Armando Eli\u00fa Melgar D\u00edaz (Blue). Last week, El Salvador\u2019s Supreme Court chief magistrate \u00d3scar L\u00f3pez Jerez \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.laprensagrafica.com\/elsalvador\/Pdte.-de-la-Corte-Suprema-justifica-atraso-en-caso-Blue-20210816-0110.html\"\u003Enoted\u003C\/a\u003E \u201clogistical delays\u201d in the 15 extraditions. L\u00f3pez Jerez, along with four other magistrates of the highest court, were appointed in May after the Nuevas Ideas-controlled legislature \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/mailchi.mp\/elfaro.net\/el-faro-english-technical-coup-detat-in-elsalvador-6212804\"\u003Eillegally removed five magistrates\u003C\/a\u003E.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn June, L\u00f3pez Jerez and three of the other new magistrates \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.laprensagrafica.com\/elsalvador\/Magistrados-impuestos-intentan-frenar-extradicion-a-EUA-de-cabecilla-MS-13-20210624-0106.html\"\u003Eunsuccessfully moved to deny the extraditions\u003C\/a\u003E. Magistrate Jos\u00e9 \u00c1ngel P\u00e9rez Chac\u00f3n, a former legal advisor to Bukele, argued that the court should consider \u201cthe effects that they (the extraditions) can cause not only for this country, but for all of society and the citizens of the Republic.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe U.S. Embassy has emphasized the diplomatic significance of the processes. \u201cExtradition is very important to the United States,\u201d charg\u00e9 d\u2019affaires Jean Manes \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.laprensagrafica.com\/elsalvador\/EUA-espera-que-El-Salvador-cumpla-la-extradicion-de-MS-13-20210722-0136.html\"\u003Etold the press\u003C\/a\u003E in late July. \u201cThere\u2019s a treaty, an extradition agreement with El Salvador and we\u2019re waiting for it to be followed.\"\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E*English version by Roman Gressier\u003C\/p\u003E"}