WASHINGTON (AP) — Teamsters President James P. Hoffa asked Secretary of State Colin Powell last week to pressure El Salvador to investigate the Nov. 5 killing of a member who was trying to unionize port workers.

Teamster Jose Gilberto Soto, 49, was shot in the back and killed in Usulutan, El Salvador. Hoffa said police there have done little to apprehend “what appears to be a death squad” that killed Soto.

“We urge you to demand that the government of El Salvador initiate an intensive manhunt (to) capture and bring the murderers to trial,” Hoffa’s letter said. Soto, a U.S. citizen and resident of Cliffside Park, N.J., arrived in El Salvador on Oct. 30 to meet with the country’s trade union leaders and port drivers.

“We are concerned that Mr. Soto’s murder is related to his leadership position with the Teamsters” and his intention to meet with labor leaders and port drivers in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, the Teamster leader said. His letter said Soto was gunned down in front of his mother’s home, and that witnesses saw three men, including one on a bicycle, at the scene.

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