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El Salvador announces another offensive against gangs

The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, announced Sunday an offensive against the remaining members of the violent gangs that continue to operate and who twelve days ago killed a policeman.

“Although we are decisively winning the #WarAgainstGangs, we will launch an offensive against the remnants of these illegal structures,” said the governor on his Twitter account.

On May 16, members of one of these groups murdered police officer Maximino Vásquez, forcing authorities to implement a military siege that led to the capture of several gang members accused of their alleged involvement in the crime.

Following the murder, Bukele ordered a siege with 5,000 soldiers and 500 police in the town of Nueva Concepción, of some 30,000 inhabitants, in the department of Chalatenango, some 80 km north of the capital San Salvador.

The objective of this offensive is “to avoid any attempt at regrouping, as was happening in Nueva Concepción,” he said.

After the crime, the governor promised that those involved “would pay dearly for the murder of our hero (policeman)”.

With the imposition of the military siege, according to Bukele, they managed to destroy “their clica (cell), we arrested their comrades, we arrested their leader” and on Friday “the three murderers” were arrested, one of them in a Guatemalan town near the Salvadoran border.

Those now detained “will never again cause terror” in the country, he said.

Salvadoran authorities maintain a “war” against gangs under a state of emergency that was originally declared by the parliament, at Bukele’s request, in response to an escalation of homicides that claimed the lives of 87 people from March 25 to 27, 2022.

Since then, 68,720 alleged gang members have been arrested, although some 5,000 have been released because they are not linked to the gangs, according to the government.

The anti-gang crusade has the support of nine out of ten Salvadorans, according to polls, but human rights organizations and the Catholic Church have criticized Bukele’s methods.

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