A soldier stands guard during the anti-gang operation in Soyapango
Why El Salvador Has The Strictest Abortion Laws In The World Photo by: El Salvador's Presidency Press Office via AFP/Handout

In a continuation of the continued crackdown against crime and major gang activity, the city of Soyapango in El Salvador has been sealed off with over 10,000 police officers as they continue their search for gang members in the city.

The 10,000-person force mobilized in sealing off Soyapango is the largest so far in President Nayib Bukele’s nine-month campaign against gang activity in the country. Many were sent to block the roads in and out of the city to check the documents of those coming in and out, while a special team is reportedly being used to hunt down gang members one by one, according to the Associated Press.

Soyapango is one of the largest cities in the country, with a population of 290,000 people, and is well known to many locals as a hub for illegal gang activity which may have led to it being targeted by the government for its crime crackdown, the BBC reported.

“As of this moment, the municipality of Soyapango is totally surrounded,” Bukele tweeted about the situation. “Extraction teams from the police and the army are tasked with extricating all the gang members still there one by one.”

This is not the first time that a city has been surrounded by police officers to institute a major gang crackdown: Comasagua was closed down in October and over 2,000 police officers were mobilized in order to arrest 50 alleged gang members in the area.

The major gang crackdown began in March after the death of 62 people was blamed on local gangs, and Bukele had asked for emergency powers to ensure an effective crackdown on crime, including the suspension of some Constitutional rights. The emergency powers have been renewed by Congress every month since then.

Over 58,000 people have been jailed since the campaign began. Many human rights activists have bemoaned the new campaign due to many reported human rights violations, as well as the police allegedly doing arrests based on appearance or their residence rather than actual evidence.

El Salvador troops
El Salvador troops. Photo by: Jose Cabezas/Reuters

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