We see here when gangs on the street take control of neighborhoods and rule with impunity. The gangs in other, less developed nations are an exacerbation of the gangs we have here. Stories are run regularly about the ruthless acts of violence carried out by the crime syndicates in Latin American nations, which spawn overcrowded prison systems. One country plagued with wild gang activity is El Salvador. Home to one of the most notorious gangs in the world, Marasalvatrucha or MS-13 and others. The El Salvadoran supreme court made a unprecedented ruling recently, designating all street gangs in the nation as “terrorists.”
In June, there were 677 murders, which was the highest rate the country had seen since the civil war there ended in 1992. In July, there were a reported 350, and while that is almost half as many killing as the previous month, the rate was still two every hour. The “intensified” attacks are seen as an attempt by the underworld to “pressure the government into negotiations.” El Salvador’s elected officials refuse to bow to gang force.
The court’s decision was in opposition to four attempts to declare El Salvador’s Special Law Against Terrorist Acts unconstitutional. A terrorist designation makes gangsters more susceptible to longer prison terms. Instead of the standard maximum sentences of up to 20 years for homicide and up to 50 years for aggravated homicide, the newly minted terrorist MS-13 members and other gangbangers would face up to 60 years. Now, the court has the power to impose wiretaps and freeze accounts of third parties with gang affiliations.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was a gang hit of massacre proportions carried out in one of the country’s prisons. Al Jazeera reports:
Luis Martinez said Monday that the order to kill 14 people on Saturday inside the Quezaltepeque prison in western El Salvador came from the San Francisco Gotera prison in the eastern part of the country. Authorities said the killings, of members of the 18th Street Revolutionaries gang, were part of an internal “purge.” All the victims were strangled or stabbed to death on Saturday.
Saturday, there were 45 registered homicides, including the prison massacre. Sunday, there were 31.