Neama Rahmani on drug cartels' human trafficking
El Salvador has launched a massive raid on street gang members, sending thousands of security personnel to Cabanas province to round up suspects.
The latest move is part of a continuing crackdown on organised crime launched by the country’s President Nayib Bukele back in March 2022.
It comes after a weekend shooting attack on a police patrol vehicle that wounded two officers.
The President sent around 1,000 police and 7,000 soldiers to the rural province, that borders with Honduras.
Lorries loaded with soldiers were seen on the streets of the regional towns of Tejutepeque and Ilobaso on Tuesday, AFP news agency reports.
Read more… Residents’ fury as local beauty spot ‘taken over by teen gangs and drug dealers’
The security forces were reported to be setting up checkpoints on all roads leading in or out of the province.
Mr Bukele claimed the country’s notorious MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs have fled to the region to avoid his crackdown but said they would not escape justice.
“Cabanas has become the place with the largest number of terrorists, who came seeking to use the rural areas to hide,” Mr Bukele wrote in a tweet. “This massive operation will guarantee greater security for the area, and we will not end it until we find all the criminals.”
The raid was the fifth major one since the crackdown started, which has resulted in more than 70,000 suspects being arrested.
It is the second time that Cabanas province has been targeted by security forces, and follows a previous raid last year which saw several criminal camps dismantled by police.
The province is an agricultural region which covers an area of just over 1,000 sq km (390 sq miles) and is home to more than 160,000 people.
The president said that his government’s security strategies had succeeded in dismantling the gangs in the country’s large urban centres and forced them into hiding in rural areas.
This latest operation was aimed at “completely surrounding them” and “extracting them from their hideaways”, he added.
He assured locals that “honest people, visitors and tourists have nothing to fear” but did not clarify how the security forces would distinguish between the two groups.
Human Rights groups have criticised the government for arbitrarily arresting people with no links to the gangs. As few as 30 per cent of those detained have clear ties to organised crime, the human rights group Cristosal estimates.
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
People smuggler throws migrants overboard flimsy dinghy on Channel crossing[REVEAL]
Crime gangs are costing farmers £50m each year[SPOTLIGHT]
Organised crimewave turning Britain’s supermarkets into battlegrounds[LATEST]
In past raids, police have been accused of rounding people up purely based on their looks.
The Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs have long controlled much of the country, demanding money in exchange for allowing even the most basic economic activities.
The crackdown on them has proved widely popular in El Salvador.
The Barrio 18 first emerged as a small-time street gang in Los Angeles, taking its current form in the 1980s.
Today its has cells operating from Central America to Canada. Although it has been weakened in El Salvador, the gang remains a significant criminal threat in Honduras and Guatemala.
Barrio 18 spread south into Central America and Mexico mainly as a result of a change to US immigration policies in the mid-1990s.
These polices increased the number of criminal charges for which a foreign-born resident could be deported to their country of origin.
Barrio 18 are fierce enemies with the MS13, and internal divisions among the group periodically flare into violence.
In El Salvador, the gang is divided into rival factions, the Revolutionaries and the Sureños.
It also has a close relationship with the Mexican Mafia and is known to have networks of lawyers, taxi drivers and mechanics as collaborators.
Source: Read Full Article