Venezuela Claims Brutal ‘Tren de Aragua’ Gang Is Fiction After Freeing Top Members

Bolivian President Luis Arce Visits Venezuela
Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Foreign Minister Yvan Gil of Venezuela claimed on Monday that the Tren de Aragua transnational criminal organization does not exist, asserting that the organization is, in fact, a fictional “international media invention.”

Gil denied the existence of the criminal organization — believed to have grown and spread to other countries in the region under the implicit approval of the Maduro regime — in remarks given during a joint press conference with Colombian Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo in the Colombian city of Cúcuta.

“The Tren de Aragua is a fiction created by the international media to try to create a non-existent label, as they did at the time with the Cartel of the Suns, which was shown not to exist, which has never existed,” Gil told reporters.

“Now they are inventing a so-called Tren de Aragua, an organization that existed in Venezuela, localized, and which they have tried to label as a brand,” he continued. “We have seen, for example, how ridiculously videos appear even of people saying ‘we are from the Tren de Aragua,’ with a Peruvian accent, with a Chilean accent.”

The Tren de Aragua, which began in 2012 as a local trade union gang, rapidly grew into a full-fledged transnational criminal syndicate, expanding its criminal activities beyond Venezuela’s borders.

The Maduro regime has repeatedly claimed that the Tren de Aragua was “dismantled” after the socialist regime raided the Tocorón prison in September, resulting in the disappearance of its leader and a large number of its top members. The prison, located in the namesake state of Aragua, Venezuela, had been transformed into the organization’s main headquarters while the state Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) provided external security.

As part of the prison’s transformation, the facility had been modified to host its own zoo, bars, nightclubs, a baseball field, a pool, and other amenities. The gang also equipped the prison with access tunnels that connected the facility to a nearby lake. The tunnel system allowed inmates to come and go from the prison at their leisure.

Members of the Bolivarian National Guard patrol on a quad bike at the Tocorón prison in Tocorón, Aragua State, Venezuela, on September 23, 2023. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

The whereabouts of Tren de Aragua leader Héctor “the Child” Guerrero remain unknown at press time, as he escaped the Tocorón prison before the Maduro regime’s September 2023 raid. At the time of the raid, Guerrero was serving a 17-year prison sentence beginning in 2018 on multiple convictions of homicide, drug trafficking, and other crimes.

Widespread reports have indicated that the prison raid only occurred after Guerrero negotiated to hand over control of the facility to the Maduro regime. Guerrero, and some of Tren de Aragua’s top brass, allegedly escaped the prison long before the raid operation began.

Following the raid, the Maduro regime has repeatedly insisted that the Tren de Aragua does not exist, branding it as a “myth” that purportedly seeks to attack the rogue socialist regime’s image.

While the Tren de Aragua no longer has its “main headquarters” in Venezuela, the transnational criminal organization remains active in the region, contrary to the Maduro regime’s continued claims that it had managed to “dismantle” the gang.

In reality, continued evidence suggests that the criminal organization, which had first spread to other Latin American countries such as Chile and Peru, now also has an active criminal presence in U.S. cities such as Miami, Chicago, and New York after members of the organization reportedly managed to cross the southern border and claimed asylum in the United States.

WATCH — I Thought This Was America?! Alleged Migrants, Some Part of Tren de Aragua, Beat NYPD Officers


Gil claimed on Monday that the Maduro regime has not just demonstrated the “non-existence” of the Tren de Aragua, but Venezuela is allegedly collaborating “with all Latin American and Caribbean authorities in matters of citizen security and the fight against organized crime, common crime.”

The socialist foreign minister added that even former U.S. President Donald Trump has mentioned the criminal organization because, according to him, “they always want to speak ill of Venezuela, they have invented that now there is a Venezuelan organization called Tren de Aragua and that it affects the world.”

Peru, one of the countries where the Tren de Aragua has reportedly been able to establish a larger foothold in recent years, declared the Tren de Aragua “the biggest threat” to its nation’s society.

Peruvian police carry out the transfer of several members of the Tren de Aragua criminal organization in Lima on October 5, 2023. (CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP via Getty Images)

A report published by Colombia’s Caracol Televisión stated that, based on secret documentation reviewed by the news channel, the Maduro regime has enlisted the Tren de Aragua and the Colombian Marxist National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist organization to persecute and kill dissidents abroad.

Caracol’s report mentions the case of Ronald Ojeda, a former Venezuelan lieutenant who lived in exile in Chile. Ojeda, wanted by the Maduro regime for being part of a purported plot to assassinate socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, was abducted from his residence in February by a group of men linked to the Tren de Aragua who pretended to be members of Chile’s immigration police. Ojeda’s body was found buried inside a suitcase under a concrete structure in the Santiago metropolitan region ten days later.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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