Two Dead, 28 Injured in Fight at Prison in El Salvador*
By Latin American Herald Tribune
SAN SALVADOR – At least two people were killed and 28 others, including a guard, injured in a fight at the Apanteos prison in Santa Ana, a town in western El Salvador, warden Orlando Molina said.
“We have two dead and a total of 27 inmates injured, as well as a guard injured,” Molina told Radio Nacional El Salvador.
The fight started Wednesday between inmates in cell blocks 6 and 8, the warden said.
Eight of the injured were taken to a hospital, while the rest were treated at the prison clinic, Molina said.
The fight started between members of the rival Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha, or MS, gangs, the bureau of prisons said in a statement.
“Apparently, people from the MS tried to enter sector 6 because they tried … earlier to move inmates who were supposedly gang members and were transferred to sector 8,” Molina said.
Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha are El Salvador’s two largest violent youth gangs, known as “maras.”
Mara Salvatrucha is a criminal organization that evolved on the streets of Los Angeles during the 1980s, with most of its members young Salvadorans whose parents fled their nation’s erstwhile civil war for the United States.
Because many of the gang members were born in El Salvador, they were subject to deportation when rounded up during immigration crackdowns in California in the 1990s.
Sent “home” to a land they barely knew, they formed gangs that spread throughout El Salvador and to neighboring countries in Central America, where membership is now counted in the tens, or even hundreds of thousands, and gang members are engaged in murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and people smuggling.
In addition to those activities, gang members are blamed throughout Central America for a spike in rapes and robberies, and for running protection rackets to extort “taxes” from bus companies and owners of small businesses.
Police estimate that some 10,000 gang members, most of them affiliated either with Mara 18 or Mara Salvatrucha operate in El Salvador.
El Salvador’s prison system houses more than 23,000 inmates at 23 facilities designed to hold 8,110 prisoners. EFE