Salvadoran police arrest nearly 600 gang suspects in one day

Salvadoran police announced the arrest of 600 criminal gang suspects on Sunday after the country’s government declared a month-long state of emergency earlier in the day in response to a recent spike in killings across the country, a reported the Venezuelan news site Runrunes.

The National Civil Police (PNC) of El Salvador declared on March 27 that it stopped more than 600 gang suspects after raiding gang strongholds in and around San Salvador, El Salvador’s national capital, over the weekend. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele on Sunday ordered his country’s federal prison system to ration food for inmates to prepare for the influx of new prisoners.

“Don’t think they are going to be released,” Bukele wrote of the mass of newly arrested gang suspects in a declaration posted on his official Twitter page on March 27. “We will ration the same food we give now [to inmates].”

“And if the international community is worried about their little angels, let them come and bring them food, because I’m not going to take the money from the school budget to feed these terrorists,” added the president.

El Salvador’s Congress held an extraordinary plenary session on March 27 to address an “excessive increase” in killings after police across the country recorded 87 killings in the previous 72 hours. By comparison, El Salvador documented 79 homicides during the month of February.

The meeting of the national legislature was convened at the request of President Bukele, who urged Congress to approve a temporary package of measures to stem “serious public order disturbances”. The legislature voted in favor of the request for a state of emergency, suspending a handful of rights normally guaranteed by El Salvador’s constitution for a period of 30 days.

Salvadorans are not allowed to practice freedom of assembly or association for the next month, according to the edict. The decree also allows the Salvadoran police to intervene in citizens’ telecommunications without judicial authorization. In addition, the emergency order extends the duration of administrative detention, or imprisonment without trial or charge, from 72 hours to 15 days.

Salvadoran government officials have blamed the country’s recent spate of killings on domestic and international criminal gangs operating in the Central American country, such as MS-13. According to the Associated Press (AP), President Bukele ordered the head of El Salvador’s federal penitentiary system to “proceed with an immediate 24/7 lockdown of gang inmates in their cells” on 27 march in an effort to quell the wave of murders.

El Salvador’s PNC said on March 28 that it had captured “five Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 leaders, who they believe ordered the weekend killings,” AP reported.


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