First inmates transferred to El Salvador 'mega prison' in crackdown on gangs

Thousands of inmates have started to be transferred to one of the world's largest prisons in El Salvador.

The first group of around 2,000 people were moved into the maximum-security "mega prison" as part of a major crackdown on crime in the country.

Images showed prisoners stripped down to white shorts with their heads shaved, many of them with gang tattoos.

The Terrorism Confinement Centre in Tecoluca was completed in seven months to relieve pressure on some of the nation's overcrowded jails.

The centre can hold 40,000 prisoners and is considered to be the largest jail in the Americas.

In a post on Twitter, President Nayib Bukele wrote: "This will be their new home, where they won't be able to do any more harm to the population."

His policy has proven popular across the country after a dramatic spike in murders and crime in general was blamed on violent gangs.

However, human rights groups fear that innocent people are being caught up in the move, including at least dozens who have died in police custody.

Arrests can be made without a warrant, while detainees do not have the right to a lawyer.

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El Salvador declared a state of emergency over gang violence in March 2022, with more than 64,000 suspects being arrested.

Mr Bukele said earlier this month the wave of action on soaring crime had allowed El Salvador to go from "being the most insecure country in the world to the safest country in the Americas".

Despite ongoing concerns raised by human rights groups, the government has said the anti-gang drive will continue until all criminals are captured.