SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Police in El Salvador have arrested the alleged ringleader of a “black widow” killing scheme that forced women into arranged marriages and made them collect insurance policies on their husbands.

Suspect Esmeralda Flores Acosta allegedly hired the women to do housework. Gang members then allegedly offered the women to potential husbands as American citizens who could get them visas. The gang told the husbands the insurance was a requirement to get visas, then killed them to collect.

Flores Acosta told reporters Thursday she is innocent, saying “a former employee and a policemen are trying to hurt me by linking me to homicides.”

Police arrested three other women in the case earlier this year. If convicted of human trafficking and conspiracy and fraud charges they could face 20 years in prison.

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