May 4, 2016 / 12:57 AM / in 2 years

El Salvador arrests mediator of controversial gang truce

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador has arrested former congressman Raul Mijango, who brokered a controversial gang truce in 2012 that reduced murders in the violent Central American nation by half.

Gang truce mediator Raul Mijango speaks with Reuters during an interview in San Salvador, El Salvador April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

Mijango, a former guerilla commander and lawmaker with the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, was arrested on allegations of bringing banned objects into prisons and being an associate of gang members, police said on Twitter.

The truce, mediated by Mijango in 2012, lasted until 2014, and won approval from former leftist President Mauricio Funes and the Organization of American States.

The pact was broken by public criticism that the deal was too beneficial to the gangs, which took advantage of less police pressure to rearm.

The breakdown led to a record escalation of violence last year, with homicide rates skyrocketing to 103 per 100,000 inhabitants, the world’s highest, because of fighting between the Mara Salvatrucha 13 and rival Barrio 18, authorities said.

At the time of his arrest, Mijango was trying to promote a new truce.

El Salvador’s president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a 71-year-old former communist guerrilla, has taken a tough line on crime, deploying anti-gang army battalions and toughening up legislation to fight the Maras and their associates.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Enrique Pretel; Editing by Peter Cooney

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