El Salvador arrests FIFTY THOUSAND in gang crackdown and will house them in hellish ‘mega prison’


El Salvador has arrested some 50,000 suspected gang members since President Nayib Bukele launched a ‘war’ in March on criminal groups terrorizing the country, the head of the country’s police force announced Tuesday.

The country plans to house 40,000 of the arrested alleged gang members in a new ‘mega prison’ that is currently being constructed.

El Salvador declared a 30-day state of emergency in March following a spate of gang killings, giving officials special powers to clamp down on criminal groups who engage in extortion and drug trafficking, and wage turf wars against each other.

El Salvador has arrested some 50,000 suspected gang members since President Nayib Bukele launched a ‘war’ in March on criminal groups terrorizing the country, the head of the country’s police force announced Tuesday. Pictured: Alleged members of the Barrio 18 gang are presented to the media after being arrested

Suspected Salvadoran gang members are detained, during an operation in neighborhoods of the municipality of Soyapango, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on August 16, 2022

Suspected Salvadoran gang members are detained, during an operation in neighborhoods of the municipality of Soyapango, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on August 16, 2022

The country plans to house 40,000 of the arrested alleged gang members in a new 'mega prison' that is currently being constructed

The country plans to house 40,000 of the arrested alleged gang members in a new ‘mega prison’ that is currently being constructed

Pictured: An aerial view shows the construction of El Salvador's 'mega prison' which will house up to 40,000 suspected gang members

Pictured: An aerial view shows the construction of El Salvador’s ‘mega prison’ which will house up to 40,000 suspected gang members

On Tuesday, El Salvador’s Congress extended these powers by an additional 30 days for the fifth time since they were first enacted.

‘We can inform the Salvadoran people that we have already reached 50,000 recorded detentions during the period of the emergency regime,’ said Mauricio Arriaza, director of the National Civil Police.

Arriaza, as well as Justice Minister Gustavo Villatoro and Defence Minister Rene Merino appeared Tuesday at parliament to request another extension of the emergency powers, which have done away with the need for arrest warrants.

They were first enacted in March and have been prolonged by the legislature on a month-by-month basis ever since.

The 84-seat unicameral assembly agreed Tuesday night to grant the government’s newest request to maintain the decree, with 66 members voting in favour of an extension through mid-September.

The small Central American country has also increased sentences for gang membership five-fold, to up to 45 years.

A police officer searches and checks the documents of a man living in the Kiwanis Community, during a preventive patrol in search of gang members in Soyapango, El Salvador, Tuesday

A police officer searches and checks the documents of a man living in the Kiwanis Community, during a preventive patrol in search of gang members in Soyapango, El Salvador, Tuesday

Police officers take part in a security operation against gang violence in Soyapango, just east of the capital San Salvador, August 16

Police officers take part in a security operation against gang violence in Soyapango, just east of the capital San Salvador, August 16

Police officers take part in a security operation against gang violence in Soyapango, just east of the capital San Salvador, on August 16, 2022

Police officers take part in a security operation against gang violence in Soyapango, just east of the capital San Salvador, on August 16, 2022

To house part of the detainees, Bukele ordered the construction of a gigantic prison for 40,000 gang members in a rural area of the city of Tecoluca, in the centre of the country, which should be ready before the end of the year.

Bukele calls the prison the ‘Terrorism Confinement Centre’. It will have 2,000 meters of perimeter walls with an additional electric fence. Inmates will be housed pavilions, each with a capacity to hold 2,500 people, according to El Salvador Info.

Government officials have ordered prisons in urban areas to be closed in favour of rural ones.

‘The results of the emergency regime have been overwhelming, we have had a strong impact on these terrorist structures,’ Villatoro said Tuesday in his report on the gang crackdowns.

Almost 69 percent of the detainees are accused of belonging to the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang – also known as MS-13.

This is followed by the Surenos faction of the Barrio 18 gang (17.7 percent) and the Revolucionarios faction of the same group (12.7 percent). 

El Salvador declared a 30-day state of emergency in March following a spate of gang killings, giving officials special powers to clamp down on criminal groups who engage in extortion and drug trafficking, and wage turf wars against each other

El Salvador declared a 30-day state of emergency in March following a spate of gang killings, giving officials special powers to clamp down on criminal groups who engage in extortion and drug trafficking, and wage turf wars against each other

Agents of the National Civil Police (PNC), and members of the Salvadoran army inspect some houses, during an operation in neighborhoods of the municipality of Soyapango, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on August 16

Agents of the National Civil Police (PNC), and members of the Salvadoran army inspect some houses, during an operation in neighborhoods of the municipality of Soyapango, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on August 16

Police officers secure barricades prior to a protest to demand the release of people detained during the government's state of emergency to curb down gang violence, in San Salvador, El Salvador August 16, 2022

Police officers secure barricades prior to a protest to demand the release of people detained during the government’s state of emergency to curb down gang violence, in San Salvador, El Salvador August 16, 2022

Rights groups have denounced the arbitrary arrest of many people, including minors, with no gang links.

In June, Erika Guevara-Rosas – Americas director at Amnesty International – said Bukele has ‘repeatedly failed to keep his word’ to respect human rights in the country.

‘On the pretext of punishing gangs, the Salvadoran authorities are committing widespread and flagrant violations of human rights and criminalizing people living in poverty,’ Guevara-Rosas said at the time.

‘Instead of offering an effective response to the dramatic violence caused by gangs and the historic public security challenges facing the country, they are subjecting the Salvadoran people to a tragedy. 

A wheelchair-bound protester from the community of Sisiguayo raises an image of the slain Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, (1917- 1980) who the poor regard as their defender, during a protest outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador, El Salvador, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022

A wheelchair-bound protester from the community of Sisiguayo raises an image of the slain Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, (1917- 1980) who the poor regard as their defender, during a protest outside the Legislative Assembly in San Salvador, El Salvador, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022

On Tuesday, El Salvador's Congress extended emergency powers by an additional 30 days for the fifth time since they were first enacted.

On Tuesday, El Salvador’s Congress extended emergency powers by an additional 30 days for the fifth time since they were first enacted.

‘Victims of gang violence urgently deserve justice, but this can only be achieved through robust investigations and fair trials that ensure due process and effective sentencing.’

In different operations, the police and the army have seized more than a million dollars, in addition to 1,283 weapons.

More than 1,500 vehicles, as well as drugs and cell phones, have also been seized.

The wave of detentions is unprecedented in the country of 6.5 million people, who have suffered decades of violent crime driven by powerful gangs such as MS-13 and Barrio 18.

These gangs count some 70,000 members, most of them now behind bars, according to the authorities.

El Salvador has one of the worst intentional homicide rates per capita in the world. In 2018, the country recorded 52.02 intentional killings per 100,000 people.



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