Police Of El Salvador Round Up Gang Members In A Municipality

Police Of El Salvador Round Up Gang Members In a Municipality

More than 2,000 soldiers supported by specialized police teams closed down a municipality in El Salvador on Sunday to persecute members of a criminal structure of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), after committing a homicide in the area.

“We detected that the Clica Witmer Locos Salvatruchos, from the MS-13 Libertad program, is still active and was responsible for a homicide in Comasagua. 2,000 soldiers have surrounded the entire municipality. We know that the gang members are still in there,” President Nayib Bukele reported on his official Twitter account.

Units of the Police Operational Tactical Section took control of the access road to Comasagua, located 29 kilometers southwest of the capital San Salvador, where they make a detailed record of the people who enter or leave the place, to identify and neutralize to gang members.

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All passenger and private transport vehicles were inspected and only people residing in Comasagua could leave or enter the area after identification. Police reported that the control is indefinite, since the persecution of gang members who could seek refuge in the mountainous area of ​​the place continues.

In the first hours of the operation, the director of the National Civil Police, commissioner Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, reported the capture of five men and one woman, whom they identify as members of the Mara Salvatrucha and hold them responsible for the homicide perpetrated on Saturday.

Arriaza explained that, in the recent past, all of them were prosecuted for the crimes of illegal groups and extortion, but that they were released by the judges. “This time they will not return to the streets,” he said.

Recently, Congress reformed the Penal Code to make it a crime to be part of a gang, which could be punished with sentences of 20 to 40 years in prison, while the leaders could receive sentences of 40 to 45 years in prison.

Bukele warned that the operation in Comasagua will continue until the last of the gang members who have frightened the inhabitants of this town are captured for years.

security cabinet

Hours before starting the operation, Bukele met with his security cabinet and the attorney general to study the strategies implemented in the last six months.

After 62 homicides were reported in one day on March 26, a level of crime that had not been seen in El Salvador for a long time, Congress approved the state of emergency, which limits freedom of association, suspends the right of a person to be duly informed of their rights and reason for arrest, as well as the assistance of a lawyer. In addition, it extends the term of preventive detention from 72 hours to 15 days and allows the authorities to seize the correspondence and cell phones of those considered suspicious.

The authorities have reported that 53,485 people have been captured so far during the state of emergency, of which 47,893 have been placed in preventive detention, most of them accused of being part of criminal structures or gang collaborators, and the rest have been released.

According to official statistics, after being one of the countries with the most homicidal violence, El Salvador has registered the lowest figures in its history, and September closed with an average of 0.8 homicides per day and 14 days with zero homicides.

In August 2015, the Supreme Court of Justice declared the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs to be terrorist groups. In its ruling, it declared the leaders, members and collaborators of these groups to be terrorists.

The gangs are involved in drug trafficking and organized crime, but they also extort merchants and businesses.

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