On Tuesday, the government of El Salvador declared a state of emergency as prison gang activity has gotten completely out of control. This led to the transfer of 299 upper echelon members of gangs in an effort to stop the violence and activity that has been going on at seven of the nation’s prisons.
The measures did not end there, however. The legislature is to hold an emergency session on Wednesday to discuss further measures that can be taken to try to diminish, if not eradicate, the control that these gang leaders have over many of the prisons within the country.
At a news conference on Tuesday morning, the minister of justice and public security declared that authorities had targeted specific gang members and transferred them to one facility just west of the capital of El Salvador, San Salvador. Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde explained that the extraordinary measures were taken so that these gang members could “be subjected to a higher security regimen.” Ramirez further explained that this was intended to stop the communication going on inside the prison system.
One of the measures that Ramirez took to further protect the facilities as well as to stop gang activity was to provide mixed units of police and soldiers that will now handle the security of the institutions. They will not only guard outside the prisons but inside as well.
Earlier this month, the president of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, stated that the gang activity and violence that was going on in these prisons had to be stopped. He was outraged when administration officials explained that the gangs wanted to negotiate with the president, rejecting that idea out right.
In a video recorded message that was aimed toward the country’s president, three street gang members, who were not visible as they were wearing masks, agreed that the killings would stop within the facilities. In exchange they demanded that the government would not take any action to stop gang activity within the prisons.
The extraordinary measures that were taken on Tuesday were a direct response by Ceren Sanchez. One of the ideas that have been suggested is to increase the amount of soldiers that play a role in providing security to the institutions, while also imposing bans on cell phone signals around the facilities. This, the president surmised, would “guarantee the population`s security and be a hard hit against criminality."