By Dialogo February 18, 2010 The Nicaraguan police declared a “general alert” to prevent the entrance of gangs operating in neighboring countries and their influence on criminal youth groups in the country, an official source announced. The director of the police, First Commissioner Aminta Granera, instructed all structures to “be alert; we have to maximize our efforts so that the danger of the gangs from the north (of Central America) does not shift here, which would cause serious problems if they came and provoked a jump in the activities of youth groups or gangs in Nicaragua.” Nicaragua does not have criminal gangs of the kind that operate in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and the youth groups or gangs that it does have are very different qualitatively; they do not have links to organized crime, the police chief explained during an annual report to President Daniel Ortega. The authorities’ alarm skyrocketed following the capture in different parts of the country last year of fourteen members of the Mara Salvatrucha and M-18 gangs, who were deported to their countries of origin. The police chief emphasized that Nicaragua’s police system is effective, since “we are capable of detecting (the gang members), and we did not give them time to create a social base or organize groups in the country.” Granera highlighted the police’s preventive work in dealing with youth groups or gangs, which succeeded in drawing four hundred young people away from these groups in 2009. The police are currently working with 11,490 young people who participate in sports groups, and this effort has been increased, with 25,150 people, including officers, young people, and community members, participating in the effort to prevent youth violence, she specified.
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