SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Police on Wednesday arrested a TV and radio host and 27 other people accused of helping a Mexican drug cartel smuggle drugs through this Central American nation to the United States.
Pamela Martinez Pasada, 26, also known as "Pamela Posada," hosted a children's TV program and a radio show in San Salvador. The Attorney General's Office accused her and the others of belonging to an international drug trafficking ring linked to the Sinaloa cartel.
Salvadoran police said Martinez was in business with a Guatemalan woman who was detained in that country in 2015 while carrying $1 million in presumed drug proceeds in her car and who was sentenced to six years in prison. The pair are registered as partners in two businesses believed to be fronts for criminal activity, police said.
Martinez acknowledged the business ties, but denied any wrongdoing.
"It is true, but there is nothing going on because the businesses are in order," Martinez told reporters. "I am being prosecuted for being the friend of a narco's wife. (She) is my friend, but there is nothing going on."
Authorities were also seeking six more Salvadorans and four Guatemalans in connection with the case.
Investigators allege that those arrested formed a group that provided logistical support for boats carrying drugs from South America toward ports in Guatemala, where the shipments were unloaded and taken by land to the United States.
More than 20 were artisanal fishermen who purportedly supplied fuel, shelter and food to the traffickers and received up to $20,000 for transporting drugs themselves and $500 to $1,000 for informing about the movements of the Salvadoran navy.
Prosecutors allege the fishermen operated under Martinez's direction.