El Salvador sends military to patrol its violent prisons

President Mauricio Funes says jailed gang leaders are running criminal operations from the inside


Associated Press

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Soldiers in El Salvador have started patrolling prisons to fight gangs and inmate-led crime.

President Mauricio Funes says jailed gang leaders often run criminal operations and order violence from within prisons and the troops will reinforce controls both inside and outside the nation's penitentiaries.

In an address to the country, the president said the first troops were deployed Wednesday in a prison in Ciudad Barrios, which holds 1,000 Mara Salvatrucha gang members. He did not reveal the number of soldiers.

The Mara Salvatrucha and the rival 18 gang are involved in drug trafficking, people smuggling and extortion.

The announcement came three days after gang members set fire to a bus, killing 14 people.

 

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