viernes, 28 de febrero de 2014

El Salvador arrests over 120 gangsters ahead of polls

Authorities arrested on 26 and 27 February over 120 suspected members of El Salvador's two main gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 and the Mara 18, days before the second round of the country's presidential elections on 9 March. Sixty five were captured on 26 February in the capital and its environs, and in the departments of Usulutan, Sonsonate and La Libertad, El Salvador's El Mundo reported, observing that they would mostly face extortion charges, while some were sought for murder. The same daily reported arrests on 27 February of 64 other gang suspects in the capital and its suburbs, these also being sought for murders and extortions. It did not comment on whether or not the arrests were intended to curb rising gang violence ahead of the second round of presidential elections; the detained were said to have been subject to complaints and investigation for some time before. It appeared the 129 arrests did not include those of 25 or 27 gang members and other suspected criminals detained in two different operations early on 28 February in a southern district of San Salvador and in Soyapango; 16 or 18 of the detained were caught during police raids on gang safe houses, La Prensa Gráfica reported. On 25 February, a presumed member of the MS-13 was shot dead after suspected gangsters sought apparently to stop a campaign meeting of the right-wing ARENA party in Ilobasco north of the capital. Local prosecutors were not immediately certain of details of the incident, but the arrival of gang members was said to have sparked arguments and a scuffle, then shooting that killed one gang member and injured an ARENA activist, the website reported. The party has taken a firm anti-crime stance and was fielding a presidential candidate, Norman Quijano González, on 9 March. The incident followed intermittent reports and claims in recent months that gangsters were "pressuring" people around the country to vote for the Government candidate. Conservatives have accused the socialist Government of Mauricio Funes of having eased the fight against gangs and favoured a gang ceasefire that began in 2012. The Government has denied any type of complicity with criminals.

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