Mass raids on gangs in Central America

The mass raids particularly targeted members of the Barrio 18 and MS-13 gangs.
The mass raids particularly targeted members of the Barrio 18 and MS-13 gangs.

The Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have rounded up hundreds of suspected street gang members as part of a US-backed effort known as Operation Regional Shield.

The attorney-general's office in El Salvador has taken the lead, reporting it obtained arrest warrants for 1152 suspects, of whom 572 had been arrested by Friday.

The week-long effort, a US Department of Justice-led initiative to combat transnational organised crime including authorities from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States, particularly targeted members of the Barrio 18 and MS-13 gangs.

Tackling transnational human smuggling networks and gangs is a top priority for US President Donald Trump.

Most of those arrested face charges ranging from extortion and kidnapping to murder.

The US Department of Justice noted that authorities in El Salvador and Honduras arrested three dozen suspected immigrant traffickers.

Those arrested in Honduras immigrant smuggling ring include a police commissioner, a deputy inspector and three other law enforcement agents.

Australian Associated Press