El Salvador Launches Telephone Wiretapping Targeting Organized Crime

By Dialogo
April 26, 2012

The Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office will launch in May a
telecommunications interception center set up with U.S. help, which will make it
possible to conduct telephone wiretapping to combat organized crime, an official
source announced on April 24.

“The last (technical) connection tests are being done with all the telephone
service providers, and after that, we expect to be in a position to start
interceptions,” Attorney General Romeo Barahona assured reporters.

The establishment of the Telecommunications Interception Center (CITE) began
in 2010 with help from the United States, which donated latest-generation computer
equipment worth 5 million dollars, and specialists from the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) participated in setting it up.

The FBI also took charge of training a team of prosecutors and police
officers who will work on the task of telecommunications interception at CITE, the
attorney general added.

In order to allow the interception, Congress passed a law in 2010 that will
regulate CITE operations and the offenses that can be investigated with its
The law allows the interception of cellular and landline phone calls,
internet electronic messages, and optical and electromagnetic media.

With telecommunications intercepts, the authorities seek to confront crimes
such as extortion, homicide, kidnapping, pornography, drug trafficking, and illicit
association, among others.

“Some cases where we might make an interception are already being studied,”
Barahona maintained, without going into detail.

The attorney general added that in the next few weeks, his office will also
purchase at least four vehicles equipped to conduct interceptions.

Organized crime, especially drug traffickers and youth gangs, has made
Central America one of the most violent regions in the world, especially Guatemala,
Honduras, and El Salvador.

Nevertheless, starting a little over a month ago, the homicide rate has
fallen from an average of 14 a day to 5, following the start of a truce by the
leading gangs.