Honduras to build 20,000-bed mega-prison to combat gang violence

Published 17 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Honduras president Xiomara Castro.

In a new effort to control violent gangs and get gang members off the streets, Honduras plans to build a 20,000-bed “mega-prison”.

The Latin American country of Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with tens of thousands (116,000 according to some sources) of violent gang members in a population of less than 11 million, and it also usually tops lists of murders per 100,000 people.

Now, however, the country’s president, Xiomara Castro, has announced the construction of a “mega-prison” with up to 20,000 beds in an effort to combat both gang violence and an inadequate prison system.

In a televised speech Saturday, Castro presented a series of emergency measures, including plans to use the military more actively in the fight against organized crime, prosecute drug traffickers as terrorists, and build new facilities to reduce overcrowding as drug violence and other crimes continue to rise.

The leftist Castro’s plans to build a large-scale prison complex appear to be inspired by El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, who recently built Latin America’s largest prison – a facility with room for 40,000 inmates – as part of his campaign to make mass arrests of criminal gang members and get them off the streets.

Mass murder in prison

The Honduran president says the country’s security forces must “urgently carry out operations” against gangs in all parts of the country, adding that the country is now experiencing “the highest levels of gang violence, drug trafficking, money laundering” and other crimes.

One example of gang violence occurred last year when 46 female inmates were burned, shot and hacked to death in a prison by female inmates belonging to a rival gang.

Members of the ‘Barrio 18’ gang managed to smuggle a large number of guns, machetes and flammable liquids into the prison and overpowered and tied up the guards. They then went to the cells where rival gang members were held and killed them one by one.

The mass murder led to a spiral of violence with another series of deadly attacks from both sides in the country, where between 10 and 15 people are murdered every day.

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