Salvadoran Armed Forces, National Civil Police Cooperate to Fight Gangs through ‘Plan Safe House’

Salvadoran Armed Forces, National Civil Police Cooperate to Fight Gangs through ‘Plan Safe House’

By Dialogo
August 04, 2015

Hooray for the Army Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.
(Romans 13:1-3). THE FULL FORCE OF THE LAW. Yes, it's all fine, but it would be more efficient to have the army and the police force develop preventive patrols in the communities and neighborhoods all over the nation, since what is happening is that the police and the army carry out operations in one area and the criminals go to another area and it turns into a game of cat-and-mouse. What the authorities are doing to bring security to society is good. They should have done this before. It is too bad the country that is so beautiful and has such a corrupt government. Just like my country. I think it's very helpful to inform us about what's happening !!!! The PNC has no authority here anymore. The gangs are in charge. There are places they won't even even go into. Our security is a shame. They have the resources; it's just that they need honest men, not cowardly, fearful ones who are afraid and don't want to work, so why did they choose this work? It's a shame that a meter away, or even worse, in front of police stations, they're extorting. They know who they are, and they don't do anything. Really you want to put an end to the mafia. Go ahead

The Salvadoran Armed Forces’ (FAES) "Plan Safe House" initiative is improving public security by evicting gang members from residences they are illegally using to plan crimes.

In cooperation with the National Civil Police (PNC), Troops are carrying out the initiative in the 50 municipalities with the highest crime rates and in zones where Military intelligence units have reported squatters at abandoned homes. They've searched approximately 5,600 homes in 50 localities, closed 297 houses occupied by squatters, and arrested 650 alleged gang leaders -- all since January 1.

Many of those successes have come with the essential help of concerned citizens, who report on gang members squatting at abandoned properties -- popularly known as “destroyer houses”.

“The destroyer houses are houses that were abandoned by their owners due to lack of security or threats that gang members are now using for meetings or planning crimes,” Rony Morán, chief of the PNC’s San Salvador-South 911 Emergency Response System, said.

Once one of these houses has been identified by security forces, they detain the gang members from the residence, clean it, lock it, and leave an explanatory note for the owner.

“Our service members directly accompany agents when conducting censuses and searching through houses to strengthen community security, while the task forces deployed to those sectors survey the perimeter,” Brigadier General William Mejía, Salvadoran Army Chief of Staff, said during the 14th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Army's Joint Staff Office on July 11.

The effort is authorized by Article 219 of the Criminal Code, which states that “authorities may enter a house immediately if they have intelligence information or a citizen report on the commission of a crime.”

Effective intervention

Plan Safe House has had some significant successes. On June 18, for example, the PNC’s Beta Task Force detained several alleged gang members who were hiding in abandoned homes in the subdivision of San Antonio Las Vegas in the municipality of Ciudad Delgado.
With Soldiers from the Zeus Command providing security during the search, police officers confiscated an M-16 rifle with six cartridges, a 10mm pistol, a .38 revolver with cartridge, two magazines for 9mm pistols, and five police hats that have been turned over to judicial authorities.

“As an Army, we stand ready to support the PNC in any way that contributes to improving public security. It is a slow process, but we are making progress,” Brig. Gen. Mejía said.

And during another joint operation on July 2, Troops and the PNC seized a 12-gauge shotgun and four shotgun shells at a home where gang members were squatting.

“The FAES is involved in all public security plans developed by the PNC because they don’t have enough officers to resolve the gang problem,” Brig. Gen. Mejía said. “Faced with an emergency [like this], we are always ready to continue our support, even with more service members.”

Improved security

Residents are grateful for the cooperative efforts of the FAES and the PNC. For example, Julio Ernesto Andrade, a 38-year-old carpenter who lives in the area around Centenario de San Salvador Park, said he feels calmer due to the presence of the Military in his community.

“One feels safer, seeing them in action,” he said. “For a long time, the gangs have been taking over abandoned homes for their meetings and no one has come to get them out. Now, they know they cannot take houses to commit crimes, because the Soldiers are here, watching.”

María Elena de González, a 45-year-old housewife and resident of the Jardín development in the municipality of Mejicanos, agrees.

“The Soldiers keep watch over the homes that the gang members had taken and that, without a doubt, improves the environment,” de González said. “I hope this continues for a long time, so gangs can’t keep taking over vacant houses.”

Tulio Edgar Granadino said he and his fellow residents of the October 10th development in San Marcos have felt more at peace since the FAES and PNC evicted gang members from several properties.

“It isn’t that the violence is over, but the environment has improved a lot,” he said. “Now the gang members know that the Military and the police are here, and they can no longer meet in these houses alone. We hope that the abandoned houses stay closed up, with surveillance, to prevent the gangs from taking them over again.”

The Armed Forces will continue to be vigilant while working with the PNC to confront gangs and prevent crimes.

“Our plans have not stopped,” Brig. Gen. Mejía said. “We are going to keep supporting the PNC to continue closing off these spaces and give the people tranquility and security.”

Minister of Defense David Munguía Payés echoed those remarks.

“We are [present] in the highest crime areas, where the PNC has asked for our assistance...We conduct joint patrols [to] give the populace some peace and create trust because they are confident that we will remove all criminals from this place."