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US officials warn of Venezuela’s Tren de Aragua gang crossing border

Jun 11

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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the Venezuelan gang Tren de Aragua, which has caused devastation in Central and South America, is now linked to human smuggling and sex trafficking in the U.S. The gang has been connected to violence in New York, Chicago and potentially Miami, among other places.

Murders, sex trafficking, kidnappings, and money laundering are some of the crimes associated with Tren de Aragua, a transnational criminal gang from Venezuela.

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Local and federal officials warn that the gang is entering the U.S. through the Mexico border in record numbers to conduct operations.

Tren de Aragua originated in Venezuela’s Tocorón prison. The gang’s leaders built a “mini-empire” within the prison, complete with amenities like swimming pools and restaurants. From there, they coordinated and controlled their criminal activities.

The organization has strategically expanded its operations, using migration paths to establish new bases throughout South and Central America, eventually moving north and establishing a presence in the U.S.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., warned that if left unchecked, the gang could unleash an unprecedented reign of terror, mirroring the devastation it has already inflicted in communities throughout Central and South America, most prominently in Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

U.S. Homeland Security officials said there are now more than 100 ongoing investigations involving suspected gang members, with criminal charges pending against members in at least five states.

Jason Savino, the NYPD assistant chief, referred to the gang members as “ghost criminals,” highlighting the danger they pose because their identities are often misrepresented, making them difficult to track.

The ongoing gang problem raises further questions about the vetting process at the U.S. border. Venezuela currently does not share criminal records with U.S. authorities.

The gang’s expansion into the U.S. has been marked by a series of high-profile criminal activities and a growing number of arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border. In May, Border Patrol agents arrested 10 people with suspected ties to the Venezuelan gang.

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SEN. MARCO RUBIO
R – FL
“A very dangerous gang Tren de Aragua is a gang from Venezuela it’s wrecked havoc throughout Central and South America and it’s worked its way into the United States and has now been linked to human smuggling and and sex trafficking operations in the US violence in New York violence in Chicago potentially violence in Miami and in other places.

[LAUREN TAYLOR]
MURDERS, SEX TRAFFICKING, KIDNAPPINGS, AND MONEY LAUNDERING — JUST SOME OF THE CRIMES LINKED TO MEMBERS OF TREN DE ARAGUA, A TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL GANG FROM VENEZUELA. LOCAL AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS WARN THAT THE GANG IS CROSSING THE US-MEXICO BORDER IN RECORD NUMBERS TO OPERATE WITHIN THE UNITED STATES.

TREN DE ARAGUA ORIGINATED WITHIN THE WALLS OF VENEZUELA’S TOCORÓN PRISON. THE GANG’S LEADERS ESTABLISHED A “MINI-EMPIRE” WITHIN THE PRISON, COMPLETE WITH AMENITIES LIKE SWIMMING POOLS AND RESTAURANTS. FROM THERE — THEY COORDINATED AND CONTROLLED THEIR CRIMINAL ENTERPRISES.

THE ORGANIZATION HAS STRATEGICALLY EXPANDED ITS OPERATIONS, USING MIGRATION PATHS TO SET UP NEW BASES THROUGHOUT SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA, EVENTUALLY MOVING NORTH AND ESTABLISHING A PRESENCE IN THE U.S.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY
R – LA
“If left unchecked, they will unleash an unprecedented reign of terror, mirroring the devastation it has already inflicted in communities throughout Central and South America, most prominently in Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.”

U-S HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIALS SAY THERE ARE NOW MORE THAN 100 ONGOING INVESTIGATIONS INVOLVING SUSPECTED GANG MEMBERS, WITH CRIMINAL CHARGES PENDING AGAINST MEMBERS IN AT LEAST 5 STATES — INCLUDING NEW YORK WHERE THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER CALLS THEM GHOST CRIMINALS.

THE ONGOING GANG PROBLEM RAISES FURTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT THE VETTING PROCESS AT THE U-S BORDER. VENEZUELA CURRENTLY DOES NOT SHARE CRIMINAL RECORDS WITH U-S AUTHORITIES.

JASON SAVINO
NYPD ASST. CHIEF
“I’ve heard it referred to almost as a ghost criminal. Everything about that individual could potentially be misrepresented. Why does that make them dangerous? Because if you come here, we can’t even track you, we’re not even sure who you are.

[LAUREN TAYLOR]

THE GANG’S EXPANSION INTO THE U.S. HAS BEEN MARKED BY A SERIES OF HIGH-PROFILE CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AND A GROWING NUMBER OF ARRESTS AT THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER. LAST MONTH BORDER PATROL AGENTS ARRESTED 10 PEOPLE WITH SUSPECTED TIES TO THE VENEZUELAN GANG.

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FOR STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS, I’M LAUREN TAYLOR.