El Salvador returns criminal gang leaders to high security jail

SAN SALVADOR, (Reuters) – El Salvador’s government yesterday returned 14 leaders of the country’s main street gangs to a maximum security prison in an attempt to curb murders of police officers after a truce between two rival criminal groups began to unravel.

The truce was originally brokered under left-wing ex-president Mauricio Funes in 2012. Imprisoned gang leaders were moved out of maximum security to other prisons in March of that year so that they could coordinate the truce with their members.

But violence in El Salvador has jumped over the past year after the unraveling of a fragile pact between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and rival gang Barrio 18, which at first reduced murder rates.

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