The Salvadorean government has dismissed 330 prison staff members since Friday, in an attempt to crack down on gang activity.
On Monday, the national director of El Salvador’s penal system, Douglas Moreno, ordered the firing of 245 janitors, doctors, and administrative workers accused of corruption. This is in addition to 95 janitors who were fired last week from a maximum security prison.
Moreno said the dismissals involved personnel who smuggled cell phones, drugs and into the prisons, reports El Mundo. Cell phone are frequently used by jailed members of the two most powerful gangs, the Mara Salvatruchas – 13 (MS-13) and the Barrio 18, to run extortion and kidnapping schemes from behind bars.
El Salvador has 26 adult and juvenile penal facilities and an estimated 10,500 gang members. As InSight Crime has documented, the country’s prison population practically doubled between 2004 and 2008 as part of the government’s “Mano Dura” strategy against the gangs, in which police conducted mass arrests of suspected MS-13 and 18 members.