This Article is From Feb 25, 2023

"Won't Be Able To Do Any More Harm": El Salvador Moves Thousands Of Criminals To Mega Prison

In El Salvador, thousands of gang members have been moved to a new "mega jail" as part of an ongoing campaign against crime.

'Won't Be Able To Do Any More Harm': El Salvador Moves Thousands Of Criminals To Mega Prison

El Salvador begins transfers to 'mega prison' amid gang crackdown

El Salvador's populist leader, Nayib Bukele, has been engaged in a highly contentious year-long "war" against the country's famed gangs, and as a result, a significant number of gang members are now imprisoned there.

On Friday, El Salvador's government transferred thousands of suspected gang members to a recently opened "mega prison," and the nation's president tweeted about it.

President Nayib Bukele's tweet in Spanish, when translated to English, reads as follows: "Today at dawn, in a single operation, we transferred the first 2,000 gang members to the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism (CECOT). This will be their new house, where they will live for decades, mixed up, unable to do any more harm to the population."

Around 2,000 accused gang members were moved to the 40,000-person-capacity prison, considered to be the largest in the Americas, early Friday morning.

In a video posted by Bukele, prisoners stripped down to white shorts with their heads shaved are seen running through the new prison into cells. Many bear gang tattoos.

Bukele asked his allies in El Salvador's Congress to pass a state of exception last year, which has since been extended several times, that suspends some constitutional rights after a dramatic spike in murders attributed to violent gangs.

A militarised effort that resulted in over 60,000 suspected gang members being arrested was sparked by the contentious measure against organised crime in El Salvador, which has been repeatedly extended and is still in effect.

Rights groups have raised questions about alleged abuses during the state of emergency, including possible arrests of innocent people and cover-ups of deaths of detainees in state custody.

(With inputs from agencies)