El Salvadorian police arrest 17,000 suspected gang member as part of anti-crime initiative

There could very well be a shortage of handcuffs and detainment devices in El Salvador as a widespread anti-crime operation chalks up unbelievably high numbers of arrests as part of an ongoing initiative.

According to The Hill, thanks to an anti-gang violence push by law enforcement that began as a result of an emergency order last month, a staggering 17,000 suspects have been arrested in the violence-plagued nation, which is the smallest, but most densely populated Central American country. 

Some of the suspects that have been arrested, authorities report, are gang members responsible for a large portion of the continued violent crime outbreak across the country.

As evidence of the size and scope of the operation, there have been some days in the last 30-day period where a whopping 1,000 suspects have been arrested and taken off the streets.

However, some are beginning to call attention to the massive operation, with accusations that the country’s law enforcement is taking the matter entirely too far, to include the suspension of certain civil liberties and the arrests of non-gang members, even journalists in some cases.

On Monday, Amnesty International reported that some of those who’ve been arrested in El Salvador included “arbitrary detentions by security forces.” The group said many of the detainees, some of whom aren’t connected to crime or gangs, have been treated with “excessive force,” among other mistreatments, which were even touted by President Nayib Bukele.

“We seized everything from them, even their sleeping mats, we rationed their food and now they will no longer see the sun,” President Bukele said in a social media post, raising further concerns that perhaps some innocent El Salvadorians were swept up in the mass arrests.

While it’s admirable that the country is making headway in cleaning up its violence-ridden streets, it also needs to be careful so as to not violate the rights of anyone who might be completely innocent, as that will always draw negative attention, quite quickly.