President El Salvador Reports Arrest of 9,000 Gang Members

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Central American El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has said more than 9,000 arrests have been made in a two-week campaign against criminal gangs.

 

Parliament has declared a state of emergency on March 27 to fight anyone suspected of being a member of gangs such as La Mara Salvatrucha or Barrio 18.

The emergency law was prompted by a crime wave in which 87 murders were committed in a few days. They were attributed to the gangs. The government immediately announced draconian sentences for gang membership (up to 45 years in prison) and sharing messages from a criminal gang on social media (fifteen years in prison).

Before the campaign started, there were already 16,000 gang members behind bars. According to the authorities, there are still around 45,000 gang members active in the country of 6.8 million inhabitants.

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