El Salvador: Police seize high-caliber weapons
By Dialogo August 25, 2014 The arsenals of El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 gangs feature rifles, carbines, machine guns, submachine guns, shotguns and grenades. Recent gang attacks against patrols and police officers involved military-grade weapons, according to experts from the National Civil Police (PNC). “MS-13 and Barrio 18 have used high-caliber weapons to strafe police patrols,” said Commissioner Evaristo Bartolo Padilla, the PNC deputy director of Special Areas and Operations. “Ninety-five percent [of the firearms seized] at the national level have been recovered from operations against gangs, such as MS-13 and Barrio 18.” One of the most serious incidents occurred on April 4 in Quezaltepeque municipality, in La Libertad department, when members of Barrio 18 called in a fake emergency and ambushed a patrol that was responding to help. The attack killed police officer Freddy García Ramírez and injured three others. Half an hour later, other Barrio 18 members strafed the entrance of a local police station from a moving vehicle. The officers involved in the other attack were assigned to this station. Since these incidents, the PNC has intensified its seizures of weapons and ammunition. On June 6, in response to the drive-by shooting at the Quezaltepeque police station, the PNC arrested six alleged gang members, seizing two M-16 rifles, two AK-47s and three shotguns. On July 10, four Barrio 18 members were arrested near the Las Palmas community in San Salvador with M-16 rifles in their possession. The suspects allegedly were on their way to receive weapons training from other gang members. Investigators have linked them with the attack in Quezaltepeque. All of the suspects were charged with illegal possession and transportation of weapons of war, crimes that carry prison sentences of four to 10 years, according to Article 346 of the Salvadoran Penal Code. “We’re tracking each of the weapons, using their individual characteristics, in order to determine their origins. All of the investigations are ongoing,” said Commissioner Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde, the PNC’s director general. The gangs have weapons that require specific training, said Deputy Commissioner Julio César Flores Castro, head of the Soyapango Police Department. “And the weapons and ammunition were in perfect condition, which indicates that the gang members themselves were carrying out maintenance,” he said. The gangs may be arming themselves with equipment reported as lost by the PNC and El Salvador Armed Forces (FAES) in order to face off against security forces, according to criminologist and counterterrorism specialist José Misael Rivas. “Since 2004, the PNC has lost weapons that were used to defend the community policing groups,” Rivas said. “These are indications that the gangs are measuring the ability of the police to react in the face of an attack. Nowadays it would be hard to find a gang member who doesn’t have at least one handgun and who couldn’t secure grenades in a few months in order to clash with the authorities.” Authorities haven’t disclosed the number of weapons lost by the Salvadoran security forces in recent years. “Most of the weapons are acquired on the domestic black market, which is supplied with stolen or misappropriated weapons,” Ramírez Landaverde said. “For example, there are a lot that belonged to private security companies and others that belonged to the FAES.” The PNC seized 2,331 firearms between January and July this year. Police confiscated 1,903 during the same period last year. Numbers seized from gang members were not specified. “We’ve sent personnel abroad for training in the tracking of weapons and we are coordinating plans with other Central American and Caribbean countries to stop arms trafficking in our country and the region,” Bartolo Padilla said. We want to know more about the things that are happening in El Salvador. Are there plans to take care of the colonies and what has happened with all the delinquents in prison?F: Miami, Florida. Excellent news report, keep it up… THE POLICE IS INCOMPETENT AND THE GANGS ARE OPERATING 24 HOURS A DAY AND THE NATIONAL POLICE BARELY WORKS 8 HOURS AND IN THE POLICE ROADBLOCKS THERE ARE UP TO 8 POLICEMEN BOTHERING THE HARD-WORKING PEOPLE. THOSE COPS SHOULD BE PROVIDING SECURITY TO THE PEOPLE AND NOT BOTHERING THE PEOPLE THAT WORK. Anastasio Aquino, WHY CAN’T THERE BE A NEW REVOLUTION IN EL SALVADOR, IN THIS CASE, AGAINST THE FMLN?? BECAUSE the organization is controlled neighborhood by neighborhood, colony by colony (WHICH BACK THEN WAS CONTROLLED BY THE FMLN) by the gangs. They know that you go in, you won’t come out. If you live in that territory or not..and if you enlist or NOT…AND IT’S NO COINCIDENCE. Do you think it’s a coincidence too that the government is defending the gang members??? What a better way to prevent an armed insurrection than to DISARM THE HONEST PEOPLE AND BAN CARRYING WEAPONS, aside from HAVING A VERY WELL ORGANIZED ARMY INFILTRATED WITHIN THE PEOPLE (THE GANGS ARE BETTER ORGANIZED THAN THE POLICE). THAT’S WHY I’M NOT VOTING FOR THE LEFT-WING THESE UPCOMING ELECTIONS NOR FOR GANA, WHICH IS THE SAME THING OR THE SMALL PARTIES BECAUSE I LOSE MY VOTE. SO I VOTE AGAINST THE PROMOTERS OF THESE EVILS!!! THE SAME ONES THAT SAY TO FIGHT TRAFFIC ARE THE ONES HANDLING THE WEAPON DEALING IN EL SALVADOR. As long as the corrupted judges aren’t screened, which are most, this country is lost. Because when it’s time to prosecute them, they wrap themselves with the same blanket and even if it’s a serious crime, they apply substitute measures. But with poor humble people they go all out pronouncing grand resolutions with great judicial rhetoric for situations that do not warrant. WOW! The Salvadorian PEOPLE are expecting for the response of our veneered red government, that will protect them. They have already freed us from debts and with their wisdom I’m sure that they are already fixing this messy ordeal; I’m certain that the government of Cuba and Maduro, who surely by now has received some advice from a little bird, for the great government of El Salvador. Fellow countrymen we are saved and in the upcoming elections we will vote read again!!! Good afternoon. There’s no use in seizing the weapons if after a month they have already gotten the same ones or, why not say it, even better weapons. Good luck, El Salvador. A weapon that is seized is a weapon that needs to be destroyed. Otherwise there’s the risk that it will disappear or go missing again and reappears in the hands of gang members. Otherwise, this becomes a vicious cycle that the weapon is in police custody today and tomorrow in the hands of gang members. There’s the possibility that these seized weapons have already been requisitioned by the police and are back on the streets again. How is this possible? Is this real? How is it that they have heavy-duty weapons? I think there’s something fishy here, this isn’t a coincidence. May God helps us because I can’t seem to understand this. What is happening in our country? Who are the people involved in all of this? The authorities need to perform a thorough investigation so this can stop happening. Let’s remember that we are supposedly in times of peace but I think everything is worse now than it was before, because during the times of war these things would happen but among the guerrilla and the army, but now with civilians? Well, what can you do? Yes, it’s clear that the owners of our country, of our colonies, of our homes, of our authorities only have one name here, and that’s the gangs, they are the ones in charge and if they order that someone leaves a house, they have to do it out of fear for their life. But what role can religion play in all this when Father ToÃ±o himself is part of all this mafia. Therefore, all I can say is that it’s better than the Salvadorians are migrating to other countries such as the United States. Because this is the only way we can take care of our families who are in our country. May God bless us all because only God knows how this will all end for us in these times of robbery, homicides and corruption while the representatives seek reelection in order to keep living off the people. What a pity, but we ourselves are the ones to blame for it all. Goodbye. Look, that little plaque is not to delete any serial number is to seal a hole that is done on M-16 A1 rifle overtime and with usage and coincidentally is done on the spot where the serial number is. Also, the M-16 rifles used by gang members were modified by hand and come from the Mexican and Colombian black markets and enter El Salvador along with the drugs through the mangroves of Estero, Jaltepeque and Jiquilisco. Anything else you need to know?? The government in my country is trash. The representatives are thieves just like the gangs. All of this mess was planned. It’s a shame because there are a lot of honest people in El Salvador that deserve a better life. It’s too bad for my beautiful people. I think most of citizenship knows that such armament is acquired through the contacts they have within the government. We know that the three powers of the state are involved in all this and the police too; it’s all corrupted in our country and that’s why you can’t control gangs. They are allies of drug trafficking and now those who control drug trafficking in our country are the assembly, the judicial power (District Attorney’s Office and the Courts) and the executive power. (I hope not to turn up dead in the streets one day for saying all this).