Guatemala turns over Salvadoran gang leader

December 9, 2022 GMT

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A Salvadoran gang leader who had escaped to neighboring Guatemala after El Salvador began a crackdown on gangs in March has been returned to his country by Guatemalan authorities.

President Nayib Bukele touted the capture via Twitter Friday, writing “here the country is respected.”

El Salvador accuses Eduardo Pérez, alias “Scooby,” of being part of the leadership of Mara Salvatrucha, and being responsible for ordering a wave of violence on March 26 that resulted in 62 killings.

Authorities had sought Pérez even earlier, with an arrest order in place since 2009 for alleged homicides.

“They believe they are untouchable and now cowardly try to escape from the force of the Salvadoran state,” said Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro via Twitter Thursday night. He said Pérez had fled to Guatemala in October.

Guatemalan authorities found Pérez in a hospital.

Since the killings in March, El Salvador has suspended some constitutional rights and arrested more than 58,000 people on suspicion of belonging to gangs.