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El Salvador Is CRACKING DOWN On Major Gangs With U.S. Ties [VIDEO]

REUTERS/Ulises Rodriguez

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren declared a state of emergency as gang violence skyrocketed in 2015 to “nearly a murder an hour” and showed no signs of stopping in 2016, according to Deutsche Welle.

The small Central American country is home to two of the world’s most notorious street gangs: MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang. The president has asked the country’s Congress to approve “a $1.2-billion loan to reinforce security measures,” according to Reuters.

Security policies will be enacted for an emergency 15-day time period. One of the new security measures will prevent visits to prisons by family or friends of inmates.

Seven prisons in the country will be subjected to increased scrutiny as a result of the temporary security measures. Phone signals will be blocked in prisons so as to ensure a complete lack of communication with the outside world, according to Salvadoran daily La Prensa Grafica.

Most senior level gang leaders in El Salvador are behind bars and order hits from their prison cells. A total of 6,650 Salvadorans were murdered in 2015; the result of a 70 percent hike in murders after a failed gang truce.

Salvadoran gangs are not responding well to the government clamp down and released a video Saturday declaring a cease fire and pleading harsh tactics are not enacted. In the video, three gang members of MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang with altered voices make their concerns known, but the video only shows one face which is covered.

MS-13 is considered a transnational criminal organization by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The gang is highly active in the U.S. with the Los Angeles area as its West Coast hub and it has a strong presence in the Washington D.C. and Boston metro areas on the East Coast.

Both the MS-13 and 18th Street Gang do business with Mexican cartel Los Zetas. The Salvadoran gangs “move drugs or carry out assassinations,” according to Insight Crime.

MS-13 was actually founded by Salvadoran criminals in Los Angeles in the 1980s in the wake of various conflicts in Central America. While the gang is most associated with El Salvador, it also recruits many Hondurans. The gang is increasingly preying on young illegal immigrants to join its ranks.

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