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Tour El Salvador’s Notorious Prison Housing Over 4,000 Tattooed Gang Members (Photos)

Tour El Salvador's Notorious Prison Housing Over 4,000 Tattooed Gang Members (Photos)

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has proudly shared images of thousands of inmates sitting on the floor of a new prison in the South American nation, claiming that they will “never return” from. Over 65,000 suspected gang members have been arrested since March 2021 due to a government crackdown in the country.

The 40,000-capacity Center for the Confinement of Terrorism in Tecoluca, San Vicente, was built to relieve the overwhelmed prison system in El Salvador. The first 2,000 inmates were sent there last month and a second group of 2,000 prisoners were moved on Thursday, March 16. Human rights groups have expressed concern that the prison is too crowded.

Since President Bukele declared a state of emergency in March 2022, over 62,000 suspected gang members have been arrested. El Salvador has one of the highest crime rates in Latin America and the government has extended emergency powers to allow for these mass arrests to continue.

Bukele posted on Facebook: “This day, in a new operation, we moved the second batch of 2000 gangsters to the Terrorism Contention Centre (CECOT). With this, there are now 4,000 gangsters inhabiting the world’s most criticised prison.” Footage and photographs show thousands of barefoot men being led through the jail by guards wearing balaclavas. The prisoners are sitting side-by-side in only white boxers and their beds are stacked one on top of another without mattresses.

Bukele stated: “This will be their new house, where they will live for decades, all mixed, unable to do any further harm to the population.” Minister for Justice and Peace Gustavo Villatoro added: “They are never going to return to the communities, the neighbourhoods, the barrios, the cities of our beloved El Salvador. We are eliminating this cancer from society.”

The 2,000 men were transferred there as part of a security operation that started at dawn and involved 1,200 troops and three Air Force helicopters. The mega-prison consists of eight concrete buildings, each packed with 32 100sq m cells containing 80 bunk beds, two sinks and two toilets for between 100 inmates. The prison also has dining rooms, exercise facilities and table tennis courts inside that the guards play.


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