El Salvador Transfers 2,000 Inmates to New Mega Prison Amid Crackdown on Gang Violence

On February 24, El Salvadoran authorities transferred 2,000 prisoners to a new mega prison in Tecoluca, a municipality in the country’s center, amid an ongoing crackdown on gang violence spearheaded by President Nayib Bukele.

Once known as the murder capital of the world, El Salvador reduced the number of homicides in the country by 56.8 per cent over 2022, Reuters reported, citing officials. However, the agency noted that those figures did not include deaths of gang members killed in encounters with security forces.

Chile’s La Tercera newspaper reported the new prison in Tecoluca, dubbed the Terrorism Confinement Center, was built in seven months with the work of 3,000 people. With a capacity of over 40,000, La Tercera reported the complex did not have recreation facilities but included “punishment cells”.

“This will be their new home, where they will live for decades … unable to do any more harm to the population,” Nayib Bukele tweeted of the mass prisoner transfer.

Footage and images released by the president’s office shows cuffed, shirtless prisoners lined up in strict formations as heavily armed security personnel direct them.

Tackling his country’s gang violence has been key to Bukele’s presidency, though, not without criticisms from human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Both organizations have accused El Salvador’s government of making arbitrary arrests.

Domestically, Bukele has held widespread support, with pollers reporting approval ratings consistently over 75 per cent. Credit: Presidency of the Republic of El Salvador via Storyful

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