Mara gang members, having hands behind theirs heads and sitting on the floor, pass through a random search at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Mara gang members, having hands behind theirs heads and sitting on the floor, pass through a random search at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Mara gang members are seen behind the bars of overcrowded cells at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Mara gang members are seen behind the bars of overcrowded cells at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) show hand signs, representing their gang, in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) show hand signs, representing their gang, in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
A member of the 18th Street gang (M-18) stands behind the bars in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. A member of the 18th Street gang (M-18) stands behind the bars in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
A view inside a cell, where Mara gang members are arrested, during a random cell search at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. A view inside a cell, where Mara gang members are arrested, during a random cell search at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Mara gang members are seen behind the bars of overcrowded cells at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Mara gang members are seen behind the bars of overcrowded cells at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Alleged Mara gang members, detained by the Police emergency unit, pass through the initial search on the yard at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Alleged Mara gang members, detained by the Police emergency unit, pass through the initial search on the yard at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) stand behind the bars in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13) stand behind the bars in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Alleged Mara gang members are handcuffed by a police officer from the special Anti-gang unit at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Alleged Mara gang members are handcuffed by a police officer from the special Anti-gang unit at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
A prison guard searches for drugs, weapons and other banned items in a Mara gang members cell during a random cell search at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. A prison guard searches for drugs, weapons and other banned items in a Mara gang members cell during a random cell search at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
A member of the 18th Street gang (M-18) sits in a homemade hammock in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. A member of the 18th Street gang (M-18) sits in a homemade hammock in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
White socks and insoles of alleged Mara gang members are seen thrown away after the initial search on the yard at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. White socks and insoles of alleged Mara gang members are seen thrown away after the initial search on the yard at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Members of the 18th Street gang (M-18) stand behind the bars in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador. Members of the 18th Street gang (M-18) stand behind the bars in a cell at the detention center in San Salvador, El Salvador.

In the cage

San Salvador, El Salvador – February 2015

Although the country's two major gangs reached a truce in 2012, the police holding cells currently house more than 3000 inmates, five times more than the official built capacity. Partly because the ordinary Mara gang members did not break with their criminal activities (extortion, street-level distribution of drugs, etc.), partly because Salvadorean police still applies controversial anti-gang law which allows to detain almost anyone for “suspicion of gang membership”. Accused young men are held in police detention centers where up to 25 inmates may share a cell of five-by-five metres. Here, in the dark overcrowded cages, under harsh and life-threatening conditions, suspected gang members wait long months, sometimes years, for trial or for to be transported to a regular prison.

Add comment

no comments yet