April 1, 2023

Lakeview Gazette

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What’s inside the new mega-prison in El Salvador, America’s largest prison?

The largest prison in the United States can hold 40,000 inmates

The A huge prison, in an isolated rural area and with lots of technology, is “the largest in the Americas,” according to the Salvadoran government. Built some distance from the valley Sigontepec VolcanoIn TecoluccaAbout 74 km to the south-east San SalvadorHe Center for Counter Terrorism (CECOT)It stands out for its strict entry restrictions.

Center for Counter Terrorism (CECOT) gets gang members with longer sentences (Reuters)

The prison was built to house a fraction of the 62,975 gang members. Naeeb BukheleIn response to an increase in violence that claimed 87 lives between March 25 and 27.

For the construction of the jail, the government acquired 166 hectares, of which 23 were used for construction. Eight pavilions within a circumference It is surrounded by an 11 meter high and 2.1 kilometer long concrete wall and protected by electrified wires.

El Salvador (Reuters) Gang members after being transferred to a terrorism detention center in Tegoluca
A gigantic prison in an isolated rural area

To enter the prison, both inmates and security and administrative staff must reach check-in areas before passing through three fortified gates manned by security guards.

Each incoming gang member, except one passing through Body scanner You must register at the entrance area where your photo will be taken.

Inmates and officers must undergo a body scan before entry
The prisoners were shifted without belongings and wearing only short shirts

To give autonomy to the jail, the Salvadoran Minister of Public Works, Romeo Rodriguez, Two wells were dug, a 600 cubic meter water supply plant was installed, four reservoirs and eight power substations were constructed.

To enter the prison, both inmates and security and administrative staff must reach check-in areas before passing through three fortified gates manned by security guards.
Prisoners are not allotted space outside

The jail also has fuel-based emergency plants to guarantee electricity. A sewage plant was also constructed.

In front of the cellblocks, there is a control room to operate the water and electricity systems, so that prisoners do not have the ability to “manage” both services. And the pavilions have curved roofs that guarantee natural ventilation to the inmates.

The first 2,000 inmates arrived at CECOT last Friday, February 24.
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In prison, was Built in record time Seven months later, 3,000 people were employed and the work was overseen by a Mexican company.

Each pavilion covers an area of ​​6,000 square meters Each of its 32 cells, fitted with steel bars, housed “more than a hundred” gang members.Minister Rodriguez explained.

Prisoners have Each cell -about 100 square meters- has two sinks and two toilets with running water for personal hygiene.

The President shared a video showing the police operation where the first inmates were admitted to the prison

Each cell has cabins Unmatted iron sheet For prisoners to sleep.

Additionally, in each pavilion There are dark “punishment cells” without windows It is used with misbehaving gang members.

The prison was built in seven months, employed 3,000 people and was overseen by a Mexican company.
Each of its 32 cells, fitted with steel bars, housed “more than a hundred” gang members.

“No patios, entertainment areas or wedding spaces are built”So gang members leave the cell only when they go to the cell for their virtual judicial process.

Guards armed with pistols and assault rifles are in charge of supervising the prisoners. Electronic equipment jams cell phone signals, preventing communication from the prison.

“All terrorists plotting grief and pain against the Salvadoran people will be punished in CECOT under the harshest regime,” he said. Deputy Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Osiris Luna.

The mega-prison lies at the base of the imposing Chichontepec Volcano,

Relatives of those detained under the exceptional regime have condemned They demand $170 a month to provide food and basic supplies to the prisoners.

What they buy for that money are seven small packages that don’t have the details on the papers the jailers stick on the prison walls. Only family members know that USD 35 for food, USD 15 for hygiene products, USD 30 for clothes, USD 20 for area cleaning, and USD 70 for miscellaneous items.

The mega-prison has no patios, entertainment areas or wedding venues

Infobae contacted the jail authorities to know their plans to charge the inmates but got no response. Currently, in addition to the mandatory package system, there is a system called “company stores” in which family members deposit between USD 5 and USD 150 per month for purchases at stores located inside prisons. “They buy everything at a premium. Coca-Cola, which costs US$2.50 outside, is sold for US$10,” explained a relative of an inmate.

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It is not possible to know how the prison authorities use the money given by relatives of prisoners, or whether these funds are used as established by law. Because it is impossible to know Nayeb Bukhele’s government has declared all information about prisons and their security policies confidential.

Each pavilion has dark, windowless “punishment cells” that are used with gang members for misbehavior.

However, with any form of payment, selling basic necessities to prisoners in El Salvador appears to be a circular business. From March to now, the prison system has admitted about 64,000 inmates, according to official figures, adding to a population of nearly 40,000, which was before emergency rule was decreed nearly a year ago. If the compulsory collection is extended to all prisons, as family members and organizations suspect, Nayeb Bukhele’s government could start earning US$17 million a month.

President Bukhel took to his social networks to announce the transfer of prisoners to his mega-prison. Through an impressive audio visual, he advertised the arrival of the first 2,000 prisoners. “This will be their new home, where they will live for decades mixed, unable to do much harm to people,” he wrote on his Twitter account with the images, further elevating his rhetoric. A steady hand.

In the photos, a group of gang members can be seen with bare torsos lined up in the large courtyard of another prison in the country, wearing only white shorts and no footwear of any kind, guarded by police officers.

Minutes later, with their hands tied behind their backs, they are loaded onto buses and transferred to a new prison under heavy security, arriving at dawn. The entire journey was guarded by several military helicopters that flew over the buses and were supported by hundreds of police officers, security agents from the Directorate of Penalty Centers and soldiers.

Once at CECOT, prisoners were admitted into cells in groups.

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“We are removing this cancer from society by cell. Know that you will never leave CECOT again, you will pay for being cowardly terrorists,” wrote Justice and Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro.

Since March, the prison has admitted about 64,000 inmates

system International Amnesty He expressed “his deep concern” about the new prison and called on Buchel to “change course” on mass arrests policy.

“Amnesty International has condemned the clear pattern of human rights abuses under the current public security approach in El Salvador. The construction of this new prison will mean a continuation and escalation of these abuses,” the organization confirmed.

“Gang violence in the country must be dealt with comprehensively and the human rights of the entire population must be guaranteed,” Amnesty added, calling for “action by the international community”.

For the director El Salvador’s NGO Human Rights Commission, Miguel Montenegro, mega-prison “disgrace to country.”

Amnesty International expressed “deep concern” about the new prison

“The government boasts the largest prison in Latin America, which is not a source of pride, but a question involving the risks of overcrowding and violence,” said Montenegro, adding that the gangs “must be fought using methods that lead to radical change.”.

Andrew Oliva, rector of the Jesuit Central American University, felt that the government should bet on the “rehabilitation” of prison inmates.Because “they deserve a second chance”.

Bugel accuses his critics of “protecting” gang members: “El Salvador was able to go from being the most unsafe country in the world to the safest country in the United States. How did we do it? Imprisoning criminals. Is there room? Now yes. Can they give orders from the inside? No they can escape. Can you? No”.

On March 27, El Salvador will mark one year of emergency rule, and all indications are that Bugel and his Congress will extend it.

Continue reading:

The government of El Salvador moved the first 2,000 gang members to a new mega-prison
Over a thousand minors between the ages of 12 and 17 were arrested in El Salvador.
How Salvatore, the current Attorney General of Nayeb Bugel, defended the drug lord
Nayeb Bukele appoints police officers linked to drug trafficking as Salvadoran diplomats