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Arms Trafficking Lighting Round, Suchit Chavez #gijc15

  2. During 2009 and 2010, many hand grenade attacks ocurred in El Salvador. Although we questioned the minister of Defense several times about the possibility that the weapons could be owned by the Armed Forces, he denied it.
  3. In 2011, 8 military men were arrested when they were trying to extract many grenades previously buried in a military area. During the same years, a captain was arrested in USA for selling explosives to a undercover agent and because he was trying to sell drugs. Other persons were captured by police for similar offenses in El Salvador and Honduras. Two years later, 2013, a source leaked us an undercover video where a lieutenant was selling 6 pounds of C4 plastic explosive and 2 detonators for $675.
  4. Since 2011, we started to wonder what was going on? Salvadoran law states (like in many other countries) that the Ministry of Defense is the only allowed to get and buy war weapons.
  5. Since 2011 we get in touch with key sources, some of them involved in the investigation of active cases for know and understand what was going on . We got this by covering some of the cases constantly in the hearings. We planned a scheddule with questions and possible sources, and a long To Do list.
  6. We knew that we needed to link some weapons seizures with the registers of salvadoran armed forces. The main problem was this information is considered confidential due to national security.
  7. We made many requests of public information: • 13 full court records of same number of cases in El Salvador (we checked them one by one) • 2 requests of public information to Guatemala • 1 request of public information to Honduras • 3 requests of public information to Mexico • 1 request to the salvadoran Ministry of Defense • 1 request to the salvadoran Supreme Court • 1 FOIA to US government (that have not answered yet…) • We travelled to Honduras seeking a court record (and we found it at the Supreme Court) • We used every public data base to track each suspect and each name related • We met with a protected witness of one of the cases We were looking for serial and lot numbers of the weapons to prove were owned by Ministry of Defense of El Salvador and document the victims, of course!
  8.  We had the opportunity to check a court record that was under reserve