Dozens of Colombians fall for ‘Drop a Drop’ in El Salvador

El Salvador is experiencing a significant case of money laundering and fraud, with around 110 people arrested, most of whom are Colombians. This network of scammers operated by offering loans to citizens of El Salvador, despite not being registered with the Superintendence of the Financial System of the country. Among those arrested are ex-military and ex-police officers, who arrived in El Salvador as tourists.

It has been revealed that the fraudster structure charged 20% interest on the credits, and people who could not pay were threatened or suffered identity theft. In this way, the criminal network accessed bank accounts and debit cards to send money abroad. This organization has sent more than 20 million dollars to Colombia since 2021.

The authorities believe that the detainees could be part of the “Gota a Gota” structure, which originated in the Colombian cartels in 1998 and has operated in different countries. The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has insisted that the Colombians involved in the case must face Salvadoran justice.

Among the detainees are ex-military and ex-police officers who entered El Salvador “as tourists” and offered credits without being registered with the Superintendence of the Financial System. The criminal organization was made up mainly of foreigners, mostly Colombian nationals.

Modus Operandi of the Scam and Money Laundering Network

This network made loans at 20% interest, and those who defaulted were threatened or had their identity stolen to manage bank accounts or debit cards through which money was sent abroad. The attorney general, Rodolfo Delgado, has indicated that from 2021 to date, the network has sent “more than 20 million dollars” to Colombia.

The Effect of the “Drop to Drop Structure” in El Salvador

The detainees would be part of the “Gota a Gota structure” originated in the Colombian cartels in 1998, which has operated in different countries. According to the Minister of Justice and Security, Gustavo Villatoro, in El Salvador there are about 400 Colombians with expired immigration permits who could be part of this network. These individuals have 72 hours to leave the country.

President Nayib Bukele assured that detained Colombians will have to face Salvadoran justice, and warned criminals not to visit El Salvador, since the country’s prisons are waiting for them.

“Those more than 400 Colombians who are still here irregularly, and are carrying out activities for this money laundering structure of international drug trafficking cartels, have 72 hours to leave this country,” Villatoro said.

For his part, President Nayib Bukele assured that Colombians “will have to face Salvadoran justice, whoever claims it.”

The president invited “good Colombians” to visit El Salvador to “vacation, invest, work or emigrate” and promised them that they would have “legal security” and other guarantees.

However, he warned that “criminals, drug traffickers, fraudsters and some of the so-called ‘peace managers’ better not come to our country looking for trouble, because our prisons are waiting for them.”

The “peace managers” seems to be an allusion to the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, with whom Bukele has had some controversies.

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