El Salvador completed the first wave of a mass exodus to a mega-prison capable of holding up to 40,000 prisoners.
During the on-camera transports, the highly publicized occurrence saw 2,000 alleged gang members stripped down to their undergarments and loaded to/from prison buses while in shackles. The event was a part of El Salvador’s war on organized crime which included a previous nationwide sweep of nearly 64,000 suspected gang members. Nayib Bukele, the country’s president, recognized the colossal transport with a celebratory tweet on Friday. Although crime rates are down in El Salvador, not everyone shares President Bukele’s sense of fulfillment.
Human rights groups have contested President Bukele’s methods for combating organized crime since his constituency passed the “state of exception” legislation last September after the country was placed under a state of energy. With free reign at their disposal, the El Salvator government was allowed to round up thousands of alleged gang members legally. The “state of exception” was renewed on numerous occasions, during which time several prisoners died while others were suspected of being wrongfully apprehended. Located in Tecoluca, the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism will house 40,000 inmates. It will feature 32 cells, measuring 1,075 square feet each. One hundred inmates are expected to share each cell, which will be equipped with just two sinks and two toilets each. According to President Bukele, the 40-building complex is the largest prison in the Americas.