Tens of thousands of suspected gang members were arrested in El Salvador in one of the biggest crackdowns in the country’s history.
Declaring war on criminal organizations across the Central American country, President Nayib Bukele ordered all gang members to be arrested back in March.
Just months later, police officials in the country confirmed that as many as 50,000 people have already been arrested.
The country has since also announced plans to house 40,000 of the arrested gang members in the newly-built ‘mega prison.’
“We can inform the Salvadoran people that we have already reached 50,000 recorded detentions during the period of the emergency regime,” National Civil Police director Mauricio Arriaza said.
Special powers were granted to the national police back in March when a 30-day state of emergency was declared by the government in response to a series of gang killings and wars.
Since then, the state of emergency has been extended by Congress five times.
On Tuesday, Arriaza once again requested an extension of the special powers which allow the police to make arrests without warrants.
To further curb gang violence and gang activities, the authorities also imposed much stricter sentences. Thanks to a five-fold increase in the length of sentences, gang members now face up to 45 years in prison.
According to the reports, at least 40,000 suspected gang members will be imprisoned at the new ‘mega’ prison which lies on the outskirts of the city of Tecoluca.
The prison will be ready for its new occupants by the end of this year.
“The results of the emergency regime have been overwhelming, we have had a strong impact on these terrorist structures,” Justice Minister Gustavo Villatoro said.
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