Salvadoran leader: I wasn't involved in gang truce

By the Associated Press | March 28, 2012 | 5:46 PM EDT

El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes, speaks at a news conference, in San Salvador, El Salvador, Wednesday March 28, 2012, where he denied that his government has engaged in negotiations with the gangs to lower the rate of homicides, and called for a national agreement to end violence and social exclusion. (AP Photo/Luis Romero)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — The president of El Salvador is denying that his government rewarded street gangs for a truce that appears to have led to a dramatic drop in homicides in one of the world's most violent countries.

About 30 gang leaders were transferred to lower-security prisons this month. Police records show homicides dropped by more than 50 percent in the following weeks. The chaplain of El Salvador's army and police says that's because of a truce he negotiated between the feared Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 gangs.

President Mauricio Funes told reporters Wednesday that the gangsters were transferred so they could communicate the truce to jailed underlings. He denies accusations his government rewarded the gangsters for the truce.