Salvadoran police on Friday arrested a man accused of running a human smuggling ring that transported some of the victims in the massacre of 72 migrants in northern Mexico last August.
Carlos Ernesto Teos Parada, along with two others detained in December, allegedly arranged trips to the U.S. for at least six of the 14 Salvadorans who died in the attack blamed on Mexico's Zetas cartel, said Attorney General Romeo Barahona said.
Authorities said victim interviews and documents linked Teos Parada and Salvadorans Francis Erick Escobar and Jose Raul Alegria to the ring, which charged migrants $6,000 each for trips to the U.S.
The group allegedly communicated with similar smuggling operations in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, said Howard Cotto, subdirector of investigations for the national police.
Teos Parada was captured in the state of Usulutan 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of the capital, carrying a credential identifying him as an official with the San Salvador-based professional soccer team Atletico Marte.
Club officials told The Associated Press, "he was only a collaborator who helped transport the reserve team."
The bodies of 72 migrants were found August 24 on ranch in Tamaulipas near the U.S. border. Besides El Salvador, the victims were illegal immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil. An Ecuadorean and Honduran survived the attack, which Mexican authorities say occurred after the migrants refused to work for the cartel.
According government estimates, between 400 to 500 Salvadorans a day try to reach the United States, where an estimated 2.8 million Salvadorans live.