SAN SALVADOR (Reuters): El Salvador started Christmas Eve with a military operation against drug dealers in a San Salvador community, the government said on Saturday, part of the country’s controversial attempt to fight criminal gangs.
The government deployed 1,000 soldiers and around 130 police officers who have been participating since dawn in an operation in the impoverished Tutunichapa community, President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.
Security forces arrested 23 suspected criminals in the community in El Salvador’s capital, well known for drug dealing and which already faced a military intervention in October 2020.
The government said in a statement later on Saturday it had found firearms, over $10,000 in cash and “copious amounts of marijuana and crack packages.”
“All terrorists, drug traffickers and gang members will be removed from this community. Honest citizens have nothing to fear and can continue to lead their lives normally,” Bukele tweeted.
The Bukele government has drastically reduced the number of homicides in the Central American nation, but non-profit organizations have criticized the government for “abuses” in its offensives against gangs.