A top special forces colonel for the Guatemalan Army is facing various charges in his own country for allegedly laundering money for the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang.
Last month, the Guatemalan government announced the results of a large-scale operation aimed at targeting various cells or cliques of the gang known as Mara Salvatrucha. The operation, “Regional Shield 2,” led to the arrest of 71 top operators. Authorities announced the capture of Colonel Ariel Salvador De Leon, a top-ranking security official and at one time the vice-director for logistics for the Ministry of Defense. The official is believed to have helped top MS-13 financial operators launder large amounts of money and have amassed 13 million Quetzals or roughly $2 million in an eight-year span. The colonel’s salary is 10,000 Quetzals
According to Guatemala’s El Periodico, De Leon had been a Kaibil (Guatemalan special forces) and received training on numerous occasions from U.S. Southern Command. Some of the instruction dealt with countering drug trafficking. Despite what appeared to be a prestigious military career, De Leon is believed to have helped a cell of MS-13 called “Hemster Locos” launder illicit funds. The money came primarily from extorted local businesses. One of the ways described by investigators dealt with the sale of cars taken from the U.S. to Guatemala. The cars were fixed at a local shop and then sold off.
As part of their investigation, authorities claim that De Leon met with Emigdio Roda Dias, a top financial operator for MS-13. Roda Dias answered directly to Jorge Arturo “ El Fantasma” Lagos Reyes, the leader of Hemster Locos and a member of the Council of Nine, which rules over MS-13.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.