In the wake of the recent prison deaths of 14 gang members in western El Salvador, the nation’s Supreme Court has declared that street gangs, as well as those that financially support them, will be classified as terrorists.

The court has defined terrorism as the organized and systematic exercise of violence. While specifically calling attention to the notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, the court has stipulated that any gang that attempts to claim powers that belong to the state will now be regarded as a terrorist organization.

In making its ruling, the court has effectively put an end to recent legal attempts seeking to find El Salvador’s Special Law Against Terrorist Acts unconstitutional. The standing law allows, when dealing with terrorist groups, for telephone wiretaps, as well as the freezing of funds belonging to third parties that might be linked to terrorist groups under investigation.

As reported by the Associated Press, the court's decision on Monday occurred on the same day that El Salvador's attorney general Luis Martinez announced that the order to kill imprisoned gang members had originated from inside another prison.

As previously reported, authorities announced that 14 members of the notorious Barrio 18 gang were killed on Saturday. The bodies of the men were found in two separate locations during a routine inspection of a prison in Quezaltepeque, a municipality about nine miles from the capital city of San Salvador.

Awash in rampant gang violence, El Salvador is the murder capital of the world. This past weekend alone, there were 45 reported murders on Saturday and 31 on Sunday.

By the end of August, it is estimated there may have been nearly 4,000 homicides since the starte of the year, as reported by EFE. The Legal Medical Institute of El Salvador estimates the tally could reach 6,000 by the end of the year. 

When Salvadoran President Sanchez Ceren came to office in 2014, he made a special point of saying that the country needed to focus on gangs. As reported in Bloomberg, Ceren said, “We need to fight against organized crime, drug trafficking, extortions and all expressions of violence and we’re going to do so using all legal instruments of the state.”