El Salvador carries out operation to combat organized crime
By James Blears
Some call President Nayib Bukele's action heavy handed and excessive. While others are supporting it as the only way to ruthlessly and effectively deal with the growing menace of organized crime. He has deployed 8,500 troops and 1,500 Police, who have surrounded the City of Soyapango, 13 kms to the West of the Capital San Salvador. They are conducting house to house searches, which are still ongoing. He says: "Extraction teams from the Police and Army are arresting gang members one by one. Ordinary people have nothing to fear."
Organized crime has been a thorn in the flesh in these outskirts, menacing and extorting people. It is estimated that the streets gangs, number more than 70,000 nationwide. There is a template for this current action. In October 2,000 soldiers and Police carried out a similar operation in the town of Comasagua, arresting fifty suspected gang members. Following a spike in killings, the President declared a State of Emergency in March, which allowed suspects to be detained without charge for up to fifteen days, rather than the previous three. More than 50,000 people have been arrested since then.
Human Rights Groups and non governmental organizations complain that some young men are being hauled in, enmeshed in a dragnet, due to their appearance and where they live, rather than what they have done. But a poll done by the Central American University indicates that 75 percent of Salvadorians approve of the strict Government response.
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