Authorities in El Salvador have reportedly arrested a number of foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, as part of a wide-ranging probe into criminal activity.An official with the Department of State told Fox News Digital, “The Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.” We are aware of U.S. citizens who have been held in El Salvador as a result of the state of exception that has been announced there.
The spokesman said in a statement, “We take our role in assisting U.S. citizens abroad seriously and are engaged with the government of El Salvador directly on this issue,” but “due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time.”The United States of America issued a new travel alert in March 2023, warning its nationals that they could be mistakenly detained as part of the crackdown.
The U.S. Department of State has warned its citizens from traveling to the country because of the “reportedly arbitrary manner” in which some arrests have been made. The advisory states that while gang-related activities have decreased significantly, violent crime remains a concern in many parts of the country.
El Salvador’s Minister of Justice and Public Security, Hector Gustavo Villatoro, disagreed with the U.S. Department of State’s conclusion. In his words, “detentions in El Salvador are not arbitrary,” they are instead “carried forth as required by law… at every step of the way.”
Villatoro told Fox News Digital that the detained include a “handful” of American citizens. Citizenship does not provide blanket protection from legal process, so bear that in mind.For those detained, Villatoro has assured us that consular services from the embassy are “currently being carried out.” But he said that “anyone suspected of gang activity is detained and followed by investigation… regardless of nationality or place of birth” in El Salvador.