Inside El Salvador’s hellhole prisons where rival skinheads are packed like sardines as new mega-jail nears completion | The Sun

THOUSANDS of rival skinhead gangsters are packed together like sardines inside hellhole jails in El Salvador.

The country is building a new "inescapable" mega-prison ready to house 40,000 inmates in a bid to crack down on gang violence.

El Salvador is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and once had the highest murder rate in the Americas.

More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in recent years due to the menace of the nation's street gangs.

And images from inside Izalco jail in El Salvador show inmates pictured packed tightly together as punishment after a spate of violence inside the prisons.

During searches, tattooed gang members are marched into prison yards and made to sit so closely they are touching.

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As punishment, they are stripped virtually naked and stacked against each other.

Deadly rival gangs even share crowded cells – and chaos ensued during a killing spree in April 2020.

At the height of the Covid outbreak, heavily tattooed gangsters were also pictured crammed like sardines in the country's prisons.

Snaps showed the killers packed into cells, or handcuffed on floors in front of pacing guards, with just face masks for protection from the disease.

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Members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 gangs were photographed inside cells while waiting to be searched at maximum security jails.

The hyper-violent gangs are infamous for their well-publicised reign of terror in Southern California, carrying out a series of brutal murders.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights previously expressed concern and urged the government to "guarantee the life and safety of the imprisoned".

In El Salvador's new so-called Terrorism Containment Centre, prisoners will be guarded by a total of 850 police officers and soldiers.

President Nayib Bukele said in the new gigantic prison, inmates will no longer have access to "prostitutes, PlayStations, screens, mobile phones and computers."

As part of his campaign against violent crime, the new prison will be secured day and night by 600 soldiers and 250 police officers, while prison officials with assault rifles will guard the inside, making it "impossible to escape."

Electronic equipment will block cell phone signals to prevent any communication from the prison, the government has said.

Built in a remote area near Tecoluca, the prison covers 166 hectares and is believed it could be the largest prison in the world.

Currently the title belongs to the Silivri Penitentiaries Campus in Istanbul, Turkey, according to Guinness World Records.

Bukele said the new mega-prison "is a fundamental element in finally winning the war against gangs".

Footage shared by the President on Twitter shows a prison official giving him a guided tour of the facility which was built in just seven months.

The El Salvador authorities have not said when almost 63,000 suspected gang members will be transferred to the hi-tech facility.

The country's Deputy Justice Minister Osiris Luna said the inmates would be made to work to "compensate for some of the damage they did to society.

"All the terrorists who (caused) grief and pain to the Salvadoran people will serve their sentences… under the most severe regime," he said.

Last March El Salvador declared a state of emergency following a spike in the number of murders attributed to criminal gangs.

The state of emergency, approved by Congress, allowed arrests without warrants.

Cops stormed into neighbourhoods arresting suspected criminals – a move that has been slammed by human rights organizations.

Human Rights Watch has denounced that the country's "severe prison overcrowding" as a result of the mass arrests.

Without the newly-built CECOT, the country's 20 prisons had a total capacity of 30,000 inmates.

El Salvador's largest prison, La Esperanza, currently holds 33,000 people despite having a capacity of 10,000.

With nearly two per cent of its adult population behind bars, El Salvador has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

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