The Guatemalan Colonel Ariel Salvador de Leon, who worked with the U.S. Southern Command in border security operations and was sentenced for collaboratin with the Mara Salvatrucha's money laundering operations, has been released on bail along with other seven people charged for the same case.
Salvador de Leon was arrested in April after being accused of laundering extortion money for the criminal gang, which earned him the nickname "Colonel Salvatrucha." Despite the severity of the charges and evidence, de Leon was released from a prison in Quetzaltenango on a US$13,345 (Q$100,000) bail by the judge Carlos Toledo.
The judge prohibited de Leon from visiting the Defense Ministry and the business location in which prosecutors believe he used to launder to money. Also, his bank accounts were frozen and he was ordered to present himself at the prosecutor's office every week.
In September 2017, de Leon collaborated with the U.S. Southern Command for the establishment of training areas for security forces with the aim of protecting the border with Honduras and El Salvador against the same criminal groups he had been working for.
But months before the joint military operation, the Guatemalan government already knew about de Leon's criminal activities.
“On June 5, 2017, in a restaurant located at [Guatemala City's] Zone 5, the military officer was followed to document his meeting with the son of the front man. It was established that he had links with the front man of the gang's leader and the colonel's role was to clean the money through legal businesses,” says a declaration by the Prosecutor Against Extortion.
De Leon had declared a monthly income of US$1,364, but prosecutors have showen that he accumulated up to US$1,862,586.44 in different bank accounts between 2009 and 2017.
About 90 people were arrested during the police operations including de Leon and Commissioner Lucindo Chavez Cifuentes, accused of leaking information to the gang.