Authorities in El Salvador dismantle smuggling ring

Photo of author

By LatAm Reports Editor

Authorities in El Salvador have made significant progress in cracking down on illegal migrant smuggling operations. On Tuesday, a coordinated police effort led to the arrest of 10 individuals in El Salvador, including two active police officers and one former officer, for their involvement in a migrant smuggling ring. The Attorney General’s Office confirmed these details.

The operation, which spanned across several cities including the capital, San Salvador, Santa Ana in the west, and San Miguel in the east, resulted in the seizure of four vehicles and over a dozen cellphones. The investigation into this smuggling network, initiated in July 2022, revealed that the group charged migrants between $12,000 and $15,000 for promised safe passage to the United States. They operated by trafficking migrants through unmonitored areas along the Guatemalan border, subsequently moving through Mexico to the U.S.

The Attorney General’s Office began its investigation following complaints from at least 33 migrants who had paid for transportation but were not taken to the U.S. This crackdown is part of El Salvador’s broader strategy to combat illegal migration, which has become a focal point as the U.S. increases efforts to manage the flow of people at its southern border. Notably, since the end of October, El Salvador has imposed a $1,130 “airport improvement” fee on citizens from 57 predominantly African countries. This fee, according to aviation authorities, is not explicitly acknowledged as a deterrent for migrants, many of whom use Nicaragua as a transit country due to its relaxed visa policies.