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U.S. Accuses El Salvador’s Government of Cutting a Deal With Gangs

The US has accused El Salvador’s government of cutting a deal with the imprisoned leaders of the country’s top criminal gangs after learning that the administration of El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele secretly negotiated a truce in exchange for financial and prison benefits. The US Treasury addressed the incident on Wednesday, stating that the benefits of the deal included sex workers and cellphones. The accusation is a major sign of rising tensions between the US and the Central American nation, which suffers from rampant violence, endemic poverty, and mass migration.

The US has seen an influx in the number of Salvadoran immigrants to the country over the past several decades, and Salvadoran gangs have carved out an extensive presence in US communities. The US government has repeatedly criticized Mr. Bukele’s ability to cement power by weakening institutions and the rule of the law. As a result of the prison deal, the US announced sanctions on Osiris Luna, El Salvador’s deputy justice minister, and prisons director as well as Carlos Marroquin, head of a welfare agency, for their roles in the negotiations.

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