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News > El Salvador

El Salvador: Prosecutor's Office Arrests Ex Defense Ministers

  • Former Defense Minister David Munguia being arrested, El Salvador, August 16, 2020.

    Former Defense Minister David Munguia being arrested, El Salvador, August 16, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @KhalidKirmani

Published 17 August 2020

The defendants took part in a fraudulent arms swap that harmed the state by US$2 million.

In El Salvador, the Attorney General's Office confirmed that former Defense Ministers David Munguia and Jose Atilio were arrested on charges of illegal weaponry exchange.


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Munguia and Atilio held office between 2009 and 2014 during President Mauricio Funes' administration. Three civilians, Hector Mejia, Manuel Romero, and Carlos Davidson were also captured.

Besides being a pharmaceutical and weapons businessman, Davidson is the former president of the Nationalist Republican Alliance Party (ARENA), which is El Salvador's main right-wing organization.

The Attorney General's Office also confirmed that it will charge the defendants for the crimes of embezzlement, arbitrary acts, and documents falsification.

In 2012, the defendants took part in a scam when the Defense Ministry invited several companies to carry out an arms swap. This deal consisted of exchanging obsolete weapons for specific military weapons or equipment.

Justice Minister Rogelio Rivas explained that the accused used "experts" who set prices of US$30 and US$50 to weapons, although they were just supposed to swap them. The entire fraud represented a loss of US$2 million to the country.   

Atilio will have to face another trial for arms trafficking, which began to take shape when the Legislative Assembly removed the diplomatic immunity that he had since he was El Salvador's ambassador to Germany in 2016.

This is also the second time authorities have arrested Munguia as he was under house arrest after facing charges of gang ties.

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