The "El Sapo" group and its activities; attitude of the government towards this group [SLV38979.E]

According to a number of reports, "El Sapo" was a criminal gang involved in kidnapping (El Diario de Hoy 18 Apr. 2001; ibid. 28 June 2001; TV Doce 16 May 2001).

A report in TV Doce stated that members of the "El Sapo" gang were arrested in February 2001 in Soyapango and San Martin for the kidnapping of a government employee and a businessman (16 May 2001). Although the gang was accused of two kidnappings, the National Civilian Police (Policia Nacional Civil, PNC) believed the gang committed about 10 kidnappings (El Diario de Hoy 28 June 2001). Led by Ivan Enrique Cruz Canada (also known as "El Sapo"), the El Sapo gang consisted of four other members: Wilson Ernesto Aguilar Paz, Jose Angel Gonzalez Menendez, Eduardo Erazo Nolasco, and Luis Gonzalez Menendez (ibid. 18 Apr. 2001).

The PNC stated that Cruz Canada, also accused of the murder of Eduardo Henriquez (also known as "Gigio"), had an extensive criminal record (ibid. 28 June 2001). In addition, police officials reported that the 33 year-old Cruz Canada was deported in 1999 from Los Angeles, United States of America, where he was involved with the gang "Mara Salvatrucha" (ibid.). Upon his arrival in El Salvador, Cruz Canada began leading gangs in the municipalities of Quezaltepeque and Ilopango, and was involved in a number of crimes related to assault and theft (ibid.).

According to a 10 February 2002 report, Judge Gloria Lizama decided in a preliminary hearing that the five members of the "El Sapo" gang would continue their stay in prison in order to face the charges laid against them (La Prensa Grafica). The Judge's decision was based on sufficient "elements of proof" (elementos de prueba) according to Public Prosecutor Salvador Ruiz (La Prensa Grafica 10 Feb. 2002). All five members stand accused of kidnapping, while Cruz Canada is also charged with the attempted rape of a young woman (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


El Diario de Hoy [San Salvador]. 28 June 2001. "'El Sapo': De las pandillas a los secuestros." [Accessed 23 Oct. 2002]

____. 18 April 2001. "Declara testigo en caso 'El Sapo'." [Accessed 23 Oct. 2002]

La Prensa Grafica [San Salvador]. 10 February 2002. "Por varios delitos: Banda de 'El Sapo' ira a vista publica." [Accessed 28 Oct. 2002]

TV Doce [San Salvador]. 16 May 2001. "Archivo: Miercoles 16 de Mayo del 2001." [Accessed 23 Oct. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases

Internet site

Corte Suprema de Justicia

Search engine


Associated documents