The national prosecutor's office in El Salvador has arrested an evangelical pastor for allegedly having ties to a criminal gang, charging him with belonging to a terrorist organization.

The Life Unit of the prosecutor's office says it ordered the arrest Tuesday of the Rev. Pedro Antonio Jimenez de Leon and 28 alleged members of Mara Salvatrucha, one of El Salvador's two major gangs that operate in the historic central district of the capital.

The office said Jimenez and others worked street corners carrying Bibles and collecting extortion money as church offerings. It isn't clear if Jimenez is an ordained pastor.

El Salvador recently designated Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street Gang as terrorist organizations. Warfare between gangs and with the government has pushed homicide rates to civil war levels.