NY's Giuliani to El Salvador: Annihilate gangs to boost security

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador’s two rival gangs must be destroyed in order to quell violent crime in the increasingly lawless Central American country, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said at a local business conference on Monday.

“The biggest problem in New York was the mafia and then drug traffickers, but here it’s two major gangs, and these two gangs need to be annihilated,” Giuliani said, according to a simultaneous Spanish-language translation of his remarks.

Violence in El Salvador has increased ever since a 2012 truce between rival gangs Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) started to unravel.

In addition to an average 15.5 homicides per day, the incidence of attacks on police officers and military forces has been on the rise, with 22 police officers and six soldiers killed so far this year.

In January, the Salvadoran government authorized the police to shoot “without any fear of suffering consequences” if threatened by gang members.

Guiliani, who was mayor of New York from 1994 through 2001, has often been credited for a huge drop in the city’s crime rate. He championed the “broken windows” approach to crime, which took a tough approach to low-level violations such as jumping subway turnstiles in the view that doing so stopped more serious crimes.

Giuliani formed a management and security consultancy after stepping down from office, and he travels widely as a paid speaker.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Leslie Adler