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HomeCentral AmericaEl SalvadorEl Salvador Sentences MS-13 Gang Member to 460 Years in Prison

El Salvador Sentences MS-13 Gang Member to 460 Years in Prison

The justice system of El Salvador sentenced a gang member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) to 460 years in prison for aggravated extortion, the Prosecutor’s Office reported this Thursday.

Another member of the criminal gang received a sentence of 360 years, while six other gang members were sentenced to between 60 and 20 years in prison.

The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) announced on its X account (formerly Twitter) that it succeeded in ensuring “that 8 MS gang members receive sentences of up to 460 years in prison for extorting 24 victims.”

“With abundant evidence, the FGR demonstrated that the gang members demanded from merchants, bus owners (public transport bus operators), and taxi drivers between 40 and 100 dollars monthly to allow them to work,” it added.

The public prosecutor’s office did not specify the period during which the extortions were committed, which affected residents in the localities of Guatajiagua, Morazán, Ciudad Barrios, Chapeltique, and Moncagua, all located in the eastern part of the country.

In July 2023, the Salvadoran Congress, at the request of President Nayib Bukele’s government, approved reforms allowing mass criminal trials of gang members without the need to individualize the responsibilities of the accused.

At that time, it was also approved to increase the penalties for gang leaders from 45 to 60 years in prison. More than a year earlier, Congress also approved punishing membership in a criminal gang with between 20 and 30 years.

Before Bukele’s government declared an offensive against the gangs in March 2022, supported by a state of emergency questioned by humanitarian organizations, the gangs were sustained by extortion and the sale and distribution of drugs.

Those who did not pay were threatened with death or, in the worst cases, were murdered.

Following the beginning of Bukele’s government’s “war” against the gangs, extortions have drastically reduced and, according to authorities, have almost disappeared.

In a recent interview with AFP, the Minister of Justice and Security, Gustavo Villatoro, assured that through extortion, the gang’s “crime industry” generated between 1.5 and 2 billion dollars annually, but currently extortions “do not even reach 5%” of that amount.

According to official figures, more than 80,000 suspected gang members have been arrested during the state of emergency.

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