April 20, 2024 4:25 am
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Massive Money Laundering Network Brought Down: Over 100 Arrested in El Salvador

Salvadoran officials announced on Monday that they have apprehended 110 individuals involved in an alleged international money laundering syndicate operating within the country. Most of those detained were Colombian nationals who failed to register as lenders and provided loans to residents at exorbitant interest rates of 20 percent.

Authorities in El Salvador revealed that this illicit scheme involved the use of threats against borrowers who could not repay their loans. In some cases, victims’ identities were stolen by the loan sharks. The police statement explained, “When victims cannot pay, debt collectors use threats and then pretend to want to help them, telling them that their debt will be canceled if they open bank accounts and give them their access codes.”

Over the past year, the money laundering network managed to funnel more than $20 million back to Colombia. The funds provided to victims were initially brought into El Salvador through remittances and bank transactions, according to Attorney General Rodolfo Delgado. Justice Minister Gustavo Villatoro emphasized that these “gota a gota” (“drop by drop”) loan schemes originated from Colombian cartels over 20 years ago and have spread to various Latin American countries.

Apart from the 105 Colombians, the authorities arrested one Argentine, one Guatemalan, and three Salvadorans in connection with the operation.

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