EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — A Salvadoran gang often reviled by U.S. authorities has pulled off a bloody courthouse “rescue” of one of its leaders in Central America, news media outlets in Honduras report.
Twenty men dressed as police officers and carrying automatic weapons on Thursday walked into a courtroom in the province of Yoro, shot two soldiers and two police officers dead and left with accused murderer Alexander Mendoza in tow, La Prensa reported. A fifth body — presumed to be one of the gang members — was later found blocks from the courthouse in the town of El Progreso, 100 miles north of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
Mendoza, also known as “Porkys,” is a convicted member of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 gang. In 2018, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiracy and money laundering and was pending prosecution in connection with 20 murders and conspiracy to commit extortion, La Prensa reported.
Courthouse video obtained by La Prensa shows Mendoza being brought into the courthouse, handcuffed and wearing a white A-shirt. The lengthy video feed appears to show black-clad gang members come in pretending to be police officers bringing in a suspect. The subjects then hang out in the lobby and suddenly turn on guards and civilians, locking them into rooms.
The video shows the gang members disguised as cops try to escort Mendoza — who is now carrying a rifle — out of the building, but being turned back by gunfire from the outside. The video ends with Mendoza and the gang members exiting the building unopposed. A second video posted by La Prensa, this one from Instagram, shows gang members outside the courthouse shooting at police officers near the door, then escort a vehicle taking the MS-13 kingpin away.
Honduran officials said soldiers Wimer Antonio Fosto and Fredy Ulises Corrales as well as police inspectors Alergo Lanza Gallegos and Gerlin Oswaldo Rivera Diaz were killed during the attack. Five other soliders and police officers were wounded by gunfire, La Prensa reported.
The government of Honduras is offering a reward for Mendoza’s capture.
MS-13 is a criminal gang that originated on the streets of Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Several of its members were deported to El Salvador after serving prison sentences for murder and drug activity. Since then, the gang has become one of the most dangerous public safety threats in the Northern Triangle of Central America, according to experts.
Some of its members are known to be involved in migrant smuggling in southern Mexico. Some are occasionally caught trying to sneak into the U.S. border. The Trump administration often invokes the gang when illustrating the threat of illegal immigration into the United States.
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