SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Salvadoran authorities have announced the detentions of 442 members of the transnational Mara Salvatrucha street gang.

Officials say the arrests took place Wednesday and Thursday during a visit to El Salvador by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office says the anti-gang unit and police forces collaborated in the operation targeting the country’s eastern regions. Those captured will be prosecuted on charges of kidnapping and membership in a terrorist organization.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has prioritized combating gang activity. Sessions is visiting to discuss the problems of gangs, immigration, drugs and trafficking.

Gangs are responsible for the majority of crimes committed in El Salvador. Mara Salvatrucha has a presence across Central America and in the U.S. as well. It originated in Los Angeles.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.