Salvadoran Police Seize Military-Style Weapons and Detain Gang Members

By Dialogo
May 06, 2011

Salvadoran public-safety personnel located a barrel containing military-style weapons and arrested eleven alleged gang members on 3 May, in a rural community in the department of Chalatenango, in the northern part of the country, an official source announced.

“Early this morning a stockpile of military-style weapons was found in Nueva Concepción (…) it was part of an operation to arrest killers and extortionists from the MS-13 gang,” Public Safety and Justice Minister Manuel Melgar declared at an improvised press conference.

The operation, carried out by police and Army personnel, took place in the hamlet of Los Romeros and the residential district of La Cruz, both on the outskirts of Nueva Concepción, around seventy kilometers north of the capital.

Col. Nelson Laínez, the commander of the Chalatenango garrison, announced to a local radio station the seizure of four AK-47 rifles, one G-3 rifle, a submachine gun, an M-79 grenade launcher, vests similar to those used by the police, and other military-style equipment.

Minister Melgar commented that the operation will continue, because the appearance of other weapons has not been ruled out. “In our country, a very large number of weapons are circulating that need to be removed from the hands of criminals,” he noted.

A preliminary summary indicated that eleven alleged gang members were arrested, seven on charges of extortion and four on charges of homicide.

Violence in El Salvador results in an average of twelve homicides a day. April saw a total of 340 homicides.