(San Salvador) A second batch of 2,000 suspected gangsters were moved to El Salvador on Wednesday in the “largest prison in America” built for 40,000 inmates as part of the “war” on crime launched a year ago by President Nayib Bukele.
“In a new operation, we transferred the second group of two thousand gangsters to the Containment Center of Terrorism (CECOT). There are now four thousand gangsters who inhabit the most criticized prison in the world,” Mr. Bukele announced on his Twitter account.
The conditions of detention in this gigantic prison, in Tecoluca (74 km southeast of San Salvador), are denounced by human rights organizations.
The Salvadoran president published photos and videos of this transfer of detainees from Izalco prison, while Defense Minister René Francis Merino said that 1,200 soldiers ensured the security of the operation, also monitored by three army helicopters.
A first group of two thousand suspected gangsters had been brought to CECOT on February 24.
The gigantic prison, equipped with high-tech surveillance, was inaugurated in early February. It was built to accommodate most of the 64,000 suspected gang members locked up since the offensive against them under an exceptional regime decreed by Parliament at the request of Mr. Bukele.
The images transmitted by Mr. Bukele show many prisoners chained, wearing tattoos, signs of their membership in the two main gangs of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, shirtless and barefoot, wearing only a white underpants.
Despite criticism from human rights NGOs for abuses, the “war on crime” earned President Bukele overwhelming popularity.
The NGO Cristosal announced that it filed a complaint last week against El Salvador before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for the “systematic violation of the fundamental rights” of 66 people arrested in the context of the “war against crime “.
“The rights to liberty, to fair trial, to the right to be defended and to be judged by an independent and impartial judge have been violated”, according to Abraham Abrego, a leader of Cristosal.
The emergency regime allows arrests without a warrant and more than 64,500 people have been arrested over the past year.