El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele recently announced that 2,000 more suspected gang members were sent to the country’s largest prison, the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism.
The move comes as the country continues to battle against the notorious MS-13 gang, which originated in Los Angeles and also has thousands of members in the United States. The gang is known for its extreme violence and cruelty, particularly towards women.
Bukele’s hands-on approach against gangs has led to El Salvador not having a homicide in over 300 days. This is in stark contrast to the previous administration’s record of absolutely zero homicide-free days in four years. The Central American nation of just 6 million has imprisoned more than 60,000 accused gang members over the last year alone.
The new Center for the Confinement of Terrorism has a capacity for 40,000 people and is located 46 miles from the country’s capital of San Salvador.
The prison holds inmates in eight buildings, each with 32 cells that can hold up to 100 prisoners. Each cell has only two toilets and two sinks. The prison is considered to be the largest in the Americas and is said to be “impossible to escape,” according to Bukele.
Roughly 57,000 of those detained are still waiting for formal charges or a trial, raising some concerns from human rights groups that there could be innocents imprisoned with violent gang members.
El Salvador's murder rate has dropped significantly since Bukele began his time in office, going from 103 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 to just 7.8 murders per 100,000 in 2022.