World News

El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala launch force to confront gangs

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales (L), El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez exchange documents during a joint news conference after a meeting at the presidential house in San Salvador, El Salvador August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala will launch a new force aimed at combating criminal gangs and drug traffickers next month, presidents of the three Central American nations agreed on Tuesday.

The plan, which includes intelligence sharing and speedier extradition of detainees, was signed by the leaders in the Salvadoran capital.

El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, accompanied by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Guatemala’s Jimmy Morales, said the joint force would run coordinated security operations.

However, he did not say whether the force would be made up of police or military personnel or give any other details about its members.

Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala comprise one of the world’s most dangerous regions according to the United Nations. The violence has prompted a mass exodus of Central Americans trying to enter the United States illegally each year.

In Honduras and El Salvador where homicide rates are alarmingly high because of gang turf wars, governments are resorting increasingly to using the military to combat crime, which has been criticized by human rights groups.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Sandra Maler