With security forces in El Salvador devoting much of their time and attention to containing COVID-19, President Nayib Bukele says gangs are seizing the opportunity to commit murder.
Two dozen murders were reported Friday, marking the deadliest day since he took office last June, with more than 50 killings on the record by the end of the weekend.
Bukele, who campaigned on a promise to curb the murder rate, responded by empowering law enforcement and the military to use lethal force. Additionally, because many of the murders reportedly were commissioned from behind bars, the president ordered a 24/7 lockdown of imprisoned gang members.
Security Minister Osiris Luna also said that gang affiliates in maximum-security facilities would be subjected to round-the-clock confinement and that rival gang members would have to share cells — a tactic intended to prevent planning among those in the same gang.