Heads bowed and torsos bare, their hands manacled behind their backs and chained to their shackled ankles, 2,000 men suspected of gang violence are herded into a newly built mega-prison in El Salvador.
Alleged to be the biggest prison anywhere in the Americas, it has eight reinforced concrete buildings, each containing 32 'mass cells' — and a maximum capacity of 40,000 prisoners.
Electronic scramblers block mobile phone signals, making it impossible to contact the outside world. The jail boasts seven 'rings' of security to stop inmates from escaping. These include solid-steel cells, a large perimeter wall, 19 watch towers, electric fences and patrol zones.
Raphael Rowe commented: "I've been to some of the most brutal penal facilities in the world, including maximum-security jails in Costa Rica and Belize in Central America while filming my Netflix series Inside The World's Toughest Prisons. But the intensity of what these new pictures show, and the sheer depth of dehumanisation, is exceptional even to me.
This is a deliberate policy to control the inmates and manage them. I fear it will backfire badly — and result in violence even worse than the gang-driven chaos the government is desperately trying to stamp out."
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