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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Gangs in El Salvador

From USAToday:

When Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca took office last year, he pledged to make his country safe... by locking up gang leaders for extended periods of time and scaring their followers into toning down the violence.

Seven months ago, Saca launched "Operation Super Hard Hand," a program that expanded already-broad police powers. More than 4,000 alleged gang members have been arrested. Under the plan, just sporting a gang tattoo is reason enough for arrest.

And yet the country's homicide rate is soaring. There were 295 killings in this country of 6 million in January alone — a rate of nine to 10 a day, says Violeta Polanco, spokeswoman for the National Civil Police. That figure is up 55% from the previous January, before the Super Hard Hand effort was launched.

By comparison, New York City, which has about 8 million people, had just over 550 murders in all of 2004.

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