El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, ordered on Friday the transfer of the first 2 000 gang members to the country's "mega prison," the so-called Terrorism Confinement Center (Cecot).
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"This will be their new home, where they will live for decades, blended in and unable to do any more harm to the population," the president said on his official Twitter account.
The prison can hold up to 40 000 inmates. According to the prison authorities, the facility, built in seven months, is organized in eight pavilions with a hundred cells each. It includes a space for hearings, a review area and a punishment phase.
It will hold the most dangerous criminals from the MS (Mara Salvatrucha) and Barrio 18, the main criminal organizations in the Central American country.
Hoy en la madrugada, en un solo operativo, trasladamos a los primeros 2,000 pandilleros al Centro de Confinamiento del Terrorismo (CECOT).— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) February 24, 2023
Esta será su nueva casa, donde vivirán por décadas, mezclados, sin poder hacerle más daño a la población.
Today at dawn, in a single operation, we moved the first 2,000 gang members to the Terrorism Confinement Center (CECOT). This will be their new home, where they will live for decades, mixed together, unable to do any more harm to the population.
The vice minister of Justice, Osiris Luna Meza, said in an interview to SEMANA magazine that "the terrorists (...) will have no other company than this cement slab and the bathroom. They will not see the light of day, they will be completely isolated" so that they will not go out again to harm society.
The Cecot prison is part of the Bukele government's policy of zero tolerance and fighting against growing gang violence. A state of emergency was declared in El Salvador last March and has been constantly renewed.
More than 60 000 people have since been arrested on suspicion of gang activity. Bukele has said this crime will be punishable with long prison sentences.
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