US sanctions El Salvador officials accused of negotiating with gangs

The US Treasury Department report accuses El Salvador officials of organizing covert meetings with incarcerated gang members.

(CNN)The US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two El Salvador government officials accused of negotiating with notorious local gangs in an attempt to seal a secret "truce" and shore up political support.

According to a statement by the US Treasury Department, the officials -- Osiris Luna, chief of the Salvadoran Penal System and vice minister of justice and public security, and Carlos Marroquin, chairman of the social fabric reconstruction unit -- organized covert meetings with senior incarcerated members of the gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18. The Salvadoran criminal gang MS-13 has been described by the US government as a "transnational threat."
Over the course of negotiations, gang leaders agreed to provide political support to the ruling Nuevas Ideas party in upcoming elections, the US statement alleges. It points out that Nuevas Ideas won a two-thirds super majority in 2021's legislative elections.
    The statement also accuses Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele's administration in 2020 of providing financial incentives to MS-13 and Barrio 18 to "ensure that incidents of gang violence and the number of confirmed homicides remained low" and of offering mobile phones and prostitutes to incarcerated gang leaders.
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