Latin American Country Plans To Build Island Prison Colony For Gang Leaders

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Honduras is planning to build an island prison colony to house 2,000 gang members. It would be the only island penal colony in the Western Hemisphere.

Drawing inspiration from neighboring El Salvador, whose government has gone to war against the country’s gangs, Honduran President Xiomara Castro plans to build a prison for captured gang leaders on Great Swan Island in the Isla de Cisne archipelago, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. 

The only way to communicate with the island is via satellite, José Jorge Fortín, head of the Honduran armed forces, told the outlet. Officials say this isolation will prevent gang leaders from running operations while incarcerated, given that it takes a day to reach the island by boat from the mainland, AP reported.

“It’s the farthest away they can possibly be, so these gang leaders feel the pressure once they’re on the island,” Fortín told the outlet. “The idea is that they lose contact with everything, contact with all of society … and they can really pay for their crimes.”

After a June riot at a Honduran women’s prison left 46 inmates dead, Castro announced a new strategy, which she calls Operation Faith and Hope, to disrupt gang operations behind bars, Prensa Latina reported. Within weeks, military police raids on the country’s prisons had recovered millions of dollars worth of drugs, guns, cash, cell phones and other forms of contraband, the outlet noted. (RELATED: President Of El Salvador Explains Why He Had Inmates Destroy Tombstones Of Gang Members)

The gang crackdown mirrors the strategy of neighboring Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, whose hardline approach to gang activity resulted in the country’s murder rate dropping by 56.8 percent in 2022, according to Reuters.