RealNews

Central America targets gangs

The police never need more than a second to uncover the “crime” of Mario Alberto Peres. Three times in the past six months, Salvadoran officers have stopped the 21-year-old on the street and demanded that he lift his shirt. Across his belly, they see a large tattoo that identifies him as a member of the notorious 18th Street gang. Then they arrest him. That’s all the evidence needed in El Salvador these days. Taking gang members off the street–before they commit crimes–is the centerpiece of a controversial new law to combat an epidemic of street violence plaguing El Salvador and the rest of Central America. Blamed partly on gangsters returning from Los Angeles and other U.S. cities, the crime scourge has terrified citizens and impeded their struggle to finally enjoy some peace and stability a decade after the end of the region’s bloody civil wars. Full Story

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