El Salvador Unveils Elite Anti-Gang Police

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El Salvador has announced details of a new police unit focused on combating gangs, as part of the government’s militarization of security policy, which resembles the discredited “iron fist” policies of previous governments.

Contra Punto reports that the Anti-Gang Unit will receive training in intelligence, tactics, and investigation to tackle gangs. The police will also receive specific training in the communication patterns of gangs, which the International Law Enforcement Academy has requested be extended to authorities in both Guatemala and Honduras.

El Faro reports that the unit, part of the National Civil Police, will be made up of 320 to 360 officers.

Meanwhile, police representatives from 22 districts met with the National Civil Police’s Sub-Director for Investigations to coordinate efforts to step up arrests and imprisonments of gang members.

InSight Crime Analysis

The new unit is part El Salvador’s escalating war on its gangs, following the appointment of retired military officials to top security posts. The new moves include proposals to impose a curfew on young people, and to place schools under heavy guard.

A police unit specializing in tackling gangs could be a good step, given the number of gang members in the country, but the proposal reflects the government’s overemphasis on these groups, which new Security Minister David Munguia Payes claims are responsible for 90 percent of murders in the country. As InSight Crime has noted, this figure is highly questionable, and there are various other forces including drug trafficking groups that must be tackled.

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