President Nayib Bukele has declared a major offensive to dismantle the remnants of gangs in El Salvador, aiming to prevent them from regrouping as they had attempted in Chalatenango, where a police officer was killed.
The President of the Republic, Nayib Bukele, announced the launch of an offensive to eradicate the remnants of gangs, stating that this action will prevent any attempts at regrouping, as was occurring in Nueva Concepción. He communicated this through the official social media accounts of the Presidential House.
In order to prepare the details of the new security strategy, the President met with the Attorney General, Rodolfo Delgado, along with the Minister of Justice and Security, Gustavo Villatoro; the Minister of Defense, René Francis Merino Monroy; and the Director General of the National Civil Police (PNC), Mauricio Arriaza Chicas.
In his statement, the President referred to the armed attack carried out by gang members against Police Officer Maximino Vásquez Rodríguez, who lost his life in an ambush on May 16 while patrolling in El Zapote, a village in the municipality of Nueva Concepción, Chalatenango.
Following the murder of the officer, the President ordered the deployment of a security perimeter consisting of 5,000 soldiers and 500 police officers to ensure the safety of the population and to locate the killers and collaborators of the Fulton Locos Salvatruchos FLS clique of the MS-13 gang. This clique is primarily involved in drug trafficking in the northern region of the country.
On May 27, the three criminals responsible for the murder were captured and identified by authorities as Francis Antonio Gómez Calderón, also known as Monkey or Mono; José Armando Gutiérrez, known as Sapo or Verde; and Salvador Enrique Portillo, also known as C4. On that occasion, the Director of the PNC stated that Enrique Portillo was the one who shot Officer Vásquez Rodríguez.
President Bukele reacted to the capture of the criminals, saying, “We promised that they would pay dearly for the murder of our hero. We destroyed their clique, arrested their associates, arrested their leader, and today we arrested the three killers. They will never again terrorize our country.”
Police and Armed Forces Intensify Operations Against Gang Remnants
The National Civil Police (PNC) and the Armed Forces have intensified operations in search of remnants of gang structures, as ordered by President Bukele in his offensive against the gangs.
Special police forces have been deployed in neighborhoods and communities in the departments of San Salvador, Chalatenango, and Santa Ana, as well as on the main roads of the country, conducting searches and verifying the documentation of drivers.
“The offensive against terrorist remnants continues throughout the national territory. We are maintaining vehicle checkpoints at various points, where we intervene with drivers and rule out the transport of illicit goods,” stated the PNC on Monday.
The busiest bus stops in the municipalities of Ilopango and Soyapango also saw a strong presence of police and military personnel, as the objective is to locate and remove the remaining gang members from the streets.
Law enforcement agencies have also conducted searches in breweries and nighttime entertainment areas, looking for drugs, firearms, and criminals.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister René Francis Merino Monroy affirmed that terrorist structures have been significantly weakened; however, they will continue working to apprehend all criminals.
“We are aware that the gangs, although considerably weakened, do not renounce their criminal nature. We will only be secure in El Salvador when we have placed all of them in the hands of justice,” stated the military leader.