El Salvador Launches Landmark Trial Against Nearly 500 Alleged Gang Leaders

El Salvador Launches Landmark Trial Against Nearly 500 Alleged Gang Leaders
El Salvador Launches Landmark Trial Against Nearly 500 Alleged Gang Leaders (Credits: Reuters)

El Salvador initiated a sweeping trial on Thursday to prosecute nearly 500 purported leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, according to the country’s prosecutor’s office. These individuals face charges for over 37,000 crimes committed during a span of over ten years.

The accused include 24 high-ranking figures within MS-13, some of whom are subject to extradition requests from the United States. They stand accused of a range of offenses, including aggravated homicide, kidnapping, and arms trafficking.

“The orchestration of each criminal act by gang members required directives from the top leaders. The prosecutor’s office is committed to ensuring that these perpetrators are held accountable for the prolonged suffering inflicted upon the Salvadoran population,” stated the prosecutor’s office on the social media platform X.

El Salvador Launches Landmark Trial Against Nearly 500 Alleged Gang Leaders
El Salvador Launches Landmark Trial Against Nearly 500 Alleged Gang Leaders (Credits: INKL)

The trial is being conducted virtually as the accused are held in various penitentiaries. Some have been detained for years, while others were apprehended under the state of emergency declared in March 2022.

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador has made combating crime a central focus of his administration. His re-election on Sunday came amidst widespread support for his policies, despite concerns from rights groups regarding alleged violations during the apprehension of approximately 76,000 Salvadorans, often without due process.

In January, Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro announced that a mass hearing would exclusively target alleged gang leaders, omitting lower-ranking members from the proceedings.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.