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‘War on gangs’ in El Salvador: Arrests reach 50,000

Police in El Salvador have arrested 50,000 people since a “war on gangs” was declared five months ago by President Naguib Bukele, authorities said Tuesday.

“We have reached the number of 50,000 arrested during the state of exception,” said the country’s police director, Mauricio Arias. They also seized 1,283 firearms and over a million dollars in cash.

The measure was adopted at the end of March, following a wave of 87 murders attributed to gangs, the so-called “maras”. It specifically allows the police to make arrests without warrants. It has been extended every month since then by parliament, which is controlled by President Bukele’s New Ideas party.

In total, some 66,000 suspected members of the “maras”, the two largest of which are MS-13 and Barrio 18, are currently imprisoned in El Salvador, which already held 16,000 alleged criminals before the state of exception was declared.

To deal with the skyrocketing prison population, President Bukele ordered the construction of a giant 40,000-bed prison in the central part of the country. It is expected to open at the end of the year.

The anti-crime campaign launched by the 40-year-old president and promoted through his social networking sites is giving him record popularity in the Central American state of 6.5 million people.

But non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in particular, denounce arbitrary arrests, the deaths of many detainees at the hands of the authorities and other human rights violations.


Source: Capital

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