Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, boastfully posted images of countless prisoners sitting on the floor of a massive new prison in the South American country from which they will ‘never return.
Since March of last year, more than 65,000 suspected members of gangs have been detained as a result of a government crackdown.
The 40,000-capacity Center for the Confinement of Terrorism in Tecoluca, San Vicente, was constructed with the intention of relieving the strain on the overburdened national prison system.
The first 2,000 prisoners were transferred there last month, and a second group of 2,000 prisoners were transferred there on Thursday, March 16, despite complaints from human rights organizations that the prison is overcrowded.
In the months since President Bukele declared a state of exception in March 2022, more than 62,000 gang members are believed to have been detained.
The government of El Salvador has extended emergency powers to allow the mass arrests to continue despite having one of the highest rates of crime in all of Latin America.
Bukele posted on Facebook, “Today, in a new operation, we moved the second batch of 2000 gangsters to the Terrorism Contention Centre (CECOT).
With this, the most criticized prison in the world is home to 4,000 gang members.
Thousands of barefoot men are seen being led through the vast jail by balaclava-clad guards in images and video.
Only wearing white boxers, they sit side by side. There are no mattresses in the beds that are stacked one on top of the other.
Bukele, who ran for office on the promise of restoring law and order to El Salvador’s streets, declared that this would be the group’s new home, where they would reside for many years, mixed together and unable to cause any more harm to the populace.
“They are never going to return to the communities, the neighborhoods, the barrios, or the cities of our beloved El Salvador,” said Minister for Justice and Peace Gustavo Villatoro.
Villatoro continued, “We are curing society of this cancer.”
A security operation that began at dawn and included 1,200 soldiers and three Air Force helicopters moved the 2,000 men there.
The Tecoluca prison, according to Public Works Minister Romeo Rodriguez, is composed of eight concrete structures that each contain 32 100 sq m cells with 80 bunk beds, two sinks, and two toilets for up to 100 inmates.
The guards can play table tennis inside the mega-dining prison’s halls, gyms, and other spaces.