One of El Salvador's largest banks is expanding its network of money-transfer agencies in the Washington area to reach the region's growing Central American population.

Banco Agricola, which operates in the United States under the name Banagricola, opened two agencies yesterday in the District's Mount Pleasant neighborhood and in Virginia's Baileys Crossroads, next door to popular Guatemalan chicken restaurant Pollo Campero. It also opened two branches in Richmond.

The bank has been expanding its footprint in the Washington area since it opened its first money-transfer branch in Adams Morgan in 2002. It now has nine branches here and plans to open another one before the end of the year. Salvadorans are the Washington area's largest immigrant group, and they send millions of dollars to their families in El Salvador each year.

Seeking to capitalize on that trend, Banco Agricola and other Central American banks are bringing their brands to the United States and building ties with immigrants. Yesterday, along with the Pan American Development Foundation, the bank donated $135,000 to local immigrant groups to fund educational projects in El Salvador.

"We found that the community [in the Washington area] is much larger than we expected," said Ernesto Magana, Banco Agricola's external business manager. "We always want to be as close to our customers as we can."

Banco Agricola also operates in Houston, Las Vegas and New Jersey's Union City and Elizabeth.