Gang member dies in fight at juvenile prison in El Salvador
San Salvador, Jan 12, 2012 (Menafn - EFE via COMTEX) --At least one inmate died in a fight at a juvenile prison located 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) north of San Salvador, a spokesman for El Salvador's National Civilian Police, or PNC, said.
The unidentified 17-year-old inmate was strangled to death on Wednesday at the juvenile prison in Tonacatepeque.
"The young man was found at 2:50 p.m. (2050 GMT). He was one of the ones from the MS (Mara Salvatrucha gang) and was accused of murder," the PNC spokesman told Efe.
Police were sent to the prison to restore order after the fight, the PNC spokesman said.
Nine inmates died in fights between members of the rival Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha gangs at prisons last year, prison officials said.
El Salvador's 21 prisons are designed to hold about 8,300 prisoners, but they currently house more than 24,000 inmates, official figures show.
Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha are El Salvador's two largest violent youth gangs, known as "maras."
Mara Salvatrucha is a criminal organization that evolved on the streets of Los Angeles during the 1980s, with most of its members young Salvadorans whose parents fled their nation's erstwhile civil war for the United States.
Because many of the gang members were born in El Salvador, they were subject to deportation when rounded up during immigration crackdowns in California in the 1990s.
Sent "home" to a land they barely knew, they formed gangs that spread throughout El Salvador and to neighboring countries in Central America, where membership is now counted in the tens, or even hundreds of thousands, and gang members are engaged in murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and people smuggling.
In addition to those activities, gang members are blamed throughout Central America for a spike in rapes and robberies, and for running protection rackets to extort "taxes" from bus companies and owners of small businesses.
Police estimate that some 10,000 gang members, most of them affiliated either with Mara 18 or Mara Salvatrucha operate in El Salvador. EFE
Copyright (C) 2012. Agencia EFE S.A.