El Salvador’s court de­clares gangs ‘ter­ror­ists’


El Salvador’s supreme court de­clared the coun­try’s street gangs and those who fi­nance them ter­ror­ist groups on Mon­day.

The court said the well-known Marasal­va­trucha or MS-13 gang and any other gang that at­tempts to claim pow­ers that be­long to the state would be con­sid­ered ter­ror­ists. It de­fined ter­ror­ism as the or­ga­nized and sys­tem­atic ex­er­cise of vi­o­lence.

The court’s dec­la­ra­tion came as a de­nial to four at­tempts to de­clare the coun­try’s Spe­cial Law Against Ter­ror­ist Acts un­con­sti­tu­tional. The court found that tele­phone wire­taps and the freez­ing of funds be­long­ing to third par­ties tied to ter­ror­ist groups are con­sti­tu­tional, among other is­sues.

The court spoke on the same day that El Salvador’s at­tor­ney gen­eral said an or­der to kill gang mem­bers in a prison over the week­end came from in­side another prison.

Luis Martinez said Mon­day that the slaugh­ter of 14 gang mem­bers in­side the Quezal­te­peque prison in western El Salvador came from the San Fran­cisco Gotera prison in the eastern part of the coun­try.

The gang mem­bers were all stran­gled or stabbed to death on Satur­day. They were mem­bers of the 18th Street Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies gang. Author­i­ties said the killings were part of an in­ter­nal “purge.”

Martinez said author­i­ties had in­for­ma­tion that a mass killing in a prison was com­ing, but they did not know where or when.


A woman holds up the photos of con­firmed dead in­mates as the rel­a­tives of in­mates wait out­side a prison for in­for­ma­tion in Quezal­te­peque, El Salvador, Sun­day, Aug. 23.

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