El Salvador’s ‘mega-prison’: Thousands transferred amid crackdown on gangs


government of El Salvador moved thousands of suspects gang members to the newly opened “mega-jail” on Friday, in the latest move in a controversial fight against crime that has seen the Central American country’s prison population skyrocket.

“This will be their new home where they can no longer harm the population,” President Naib Bukele tweeted.

Early Friday morning, about 2,000 accused gang members were transferred to a 40,000-person prison, said to be the largest in America.

In a video posted by Bukele, inmates, stripped in white shorts and with shaved heads, can be seen running through the new prison to their cells. Many gang bear tattoos.

A fleet of buses transports 2,000 suspected gang members to the new prison.

The prisoners were stripped down to white shorts and their heads were shaved.  Many had bandit tattoos.

Bukele asked his allies in El Salvador’s Congress last year to impose a state of emergency, which has since been extended several times, that suspends some constitutional rights after a spike in killings attributed to violent gangs.

Since then, more than 64,000 suspects have been arrested in the anti-crime network. Arrests can be made without a warrant, the government has access to private communications, and detainees no longer have the right to a lawyer.

More than 64,000 suspects have been arrested in the anti-crime network.

Human rights organizations claim that innocent people have been implicated in this policy, including at least dozens of people who died in police stations.

But Bukele’s anti-gang campaign remains popular among Salvadorans, and the country’s security minister told Reuters it will continue until all the criminals are captured.