Maximum alert in El Salvador’s prisons

The President of ’El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, at the beginning of July, decreed  maximum alert, indefinitely,  in the country’s prisons as a means of pressure to get “gangs” to put an end to homicides.

The case is that alleged members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) murdered another police officer. Furthermore, at this time, at the end of June, members of MS13 detained a bus with 40 people on board, robbing them and raping two women.

With the death of the latest police officer, 23 officers of the National Civil Police have been murdered in 2019, as well as the murder of 12 soldiers and two prison officers, all of which were carried out by “gangs”.

Hence, one of the measures involved in this state of emergency is that of keeping inmates inside their cells 24 hours a day. Moreover, over a thousand gang members were transferred to more secure prisons from an exclusive prison complex that was exclusively for members of the Barrio 18 gang. Accordingly, the policy, due to the existing rivalry, of placing members of the rival “gangs” Barrio 18 and MS13 comes to an end. This way, the idea of a prison being used for one particular gang is rejected, as the gang ended up imposing their own rules.

At the same time, the government has obliged telephone companies that operate in the country to cut off all prisons to stop communication with the gang outside, to whom they give orders.

With these prison transfers, the idea is to try to abort the orders of gang leaders in their areas and dismantle possible criminal atrocities.

One of the measures required by the President of the country is to meet the request for over 30 million dollars to finance the security plans to deal with the “gangs”. There has been an attempt to pass this budget allocation after the first stage of a plan to recuperate areas controlled by “gangs” in 16 municipalities, including the capital, where there was an attempt to attack the finances of these criminal groups.

It has also been announced that special police forces and armed forces will be sent to pursue gang members.

El Salvador is one of the world’s most violent countries with its homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants, which over recent years has peaked at 103 deaths, mainly attributed the activities of the “gangs”.


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