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El Salvador president unveils mega-prison for gangsters

El Salvador president unveils mega-prison for gangsters
Source: Twitter / (Pic: @nayibbukele)

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele on Tuesday unveiled what he called the largest prison in the Americas, intended to hold 40,000 suspected gang members, many of them arrested under a state of emergency in his “war” on crime.

He did not specify when the first transfer of prisoners would take place from the nearly 63,000 suspected gang members currently detained by Salvadorean authorities.

According to Bukele, gangsters imprisoned by previous governments had access to “prostitutes, PlayStations, screens, mobile phones and computers” in other jails.

But those held at the new “Terrorism Confinement Center” would be forced to work, according to Deputy Justice Minister Osiris Luna.

Built in an isolated rural area near Tecoluca, 74 kilometers (46 miles) southeast of the capital San Salvador, the gigantic prison complex covers 166 hectares (410 acres), Minister of Public Works Romeo Rodriguez said.

The jail, “the largest prison in all of America” according to Rodriguez, will be guarded day and night by 600 soldiers and 250 police.

President Bukele posted on Twitter a video of himself visiting the facility, one of the biggest prisons in the world.

Mass arrests of suspected criminals as part of the El Salvador government’s “war” on gangs have been criticized by human rights organizations.

A state of emergency currently in force allows authorities to make arrests without warrants.

It was introduced in late March after a wave of murders attributed to criminal gangs that have plagued El Salvador and other countries in the region.

Humans Rights Watch on Friday denounced “severe prison overcrowding” in El Salvador’s jails as a result of arresting suspects without a warrant.

The country’s 20 prisons have a total capacity of 30,000 inmates, without the new mega-prison.

Bukele had initially announced that the giant jail should be finished in September. Authorities have not given any reason for the delay.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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