© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Tren de Aragua, Venezuela’s newest deadly export, infiltrates US borders
Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Tren de Aragua, Venezuela’s newest deadly export, infiltrates US borders

How the socialist regime in Caracas weaponized its prison system to create the fastest-growing transnational criminal organization in the world.

Jose Ibarra, the criminal alien accused of bashing in the skull of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, is a member of Tren de Aragua, an emergent prison gang from Venezuela. So is his brother Diego, also detained in Georgia for other crimes. How many more of these skull-bashers have crossed the border? That’s just it: We don’t know. Assume a virtually unlimited supply.

We do know the prevalence of this violent group in the United States is becoming alarmingly high. With federal agencies like the FBI preoccupied with other matters, such as investigating Blaze Media’s Steve Baker, the true danger looms larger. International gangs that should be the focal point of federal law enforcement give the lie to the claim that “domestic extremism” is the greatest threat to our country.

Unless and until we allow states to begin removing criminal aliens, there will be more Laken Rileys.

If the feds won’t address the problem, the states and local governments had better — before it’s too late.

“The Aragua train is in the United States,” Britton Boyd, the FBI deputy special agent in charge of El Paso, told CNN Español in January. “We already have evidence that they crossed the border. They are crossing and there is a presence.”

How dangerous is Tren de Aragua? Imagine a new version of MS-13, the nihilistic Salvadoran street gang that has been brought to heel in El Salvador but continues terrorize parts of the American Southwest and Northeast. The difference is, Tren de Aragua has ties to the terrorist government in Venezuela, which means it also has links to Hezbollah and Iran.

As hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan “asylum-seekers” have entered the United States in the past three years, you may rest assured that thousands of Tren de Aragua thugs and killers have been among them.

Attacks on cops, rise in theft

Remember the illegal aliens who assaulted two New York City police officers in Times Square last month? Seven of the 14 men believed to be involved were charged. At least two of them are confirmed members of Tren de Aragua.

Attacking police officers is a trademark of the Aragua gang, said Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society and one of the nation’s foremost experts on Latin American affairs.

“Chile was one of the first cases where we saw assaults on police officers where basically, in this case, Tren de Aragua attacked the police officers and killed them, and that became a big deal,” Humire said in an interview on my podcast. “And that’s why Chile took a very harsh stance against Venezuelan migration and started deporting a bunch of them because they were attacking their law enforcement.”

Humire noted that Aragua members seek “defiance towards the rule of law” to “diminish the public confidence in law and order.” This is what they did in South America, and this is what they will do here if they are allowed to gain a solid foothold in the United States.

Earlier this year, a Tren de Aragua member was arrested for the brutal murder of a retired Venezuelan police officer living in the United States, who was lured to his death by a group of prostitutes. The Aragua gang has long used prostitutes as part of a honey trap for street crime and as a revenue source. Sex trafficking is the gang's currency, much the way that drug trafficking is the currency of the Mexican cartels.

New York City also has been experiencing a rash of cell phone and motor scooter thefts in recent months. The NYPD says Aragua steals phones to unlock the owners’ banking information, then sells the phones to vendors in Latin America. Law enforcement sources told the New York Post that the gang is also “likely behind many of the moped robberies.”

As with Chicago, which also has a sizeable population of recently arrived Venezuelan nationals, New York has seen sharp increases in property crime that correlates with the flood of newcomers. Robberies are up 9% citywide in 2024 compared with the same period last year and up 14% over 2022. Grand larcenies were also up 1.6% compared to last year.

A creation of the Venezuelan regime

Joseph Humire argues that Tren de Aragua is more of a national security threat than MS-13 ever was because of the gang’s origins and ongoing ties to the socialist regime in Caracas.

“In 2011, Hugo Chavez created a Ministry of Prisons and appointed a woman named Iris Varela to be the minister of all the prisons in Venezuela,” Humire told me. “So he takes what was a fragmented prison system and he consolidates it under this ministry where Varela handed over the prisons to the prisoners inside Aragua. She consolidates them, empowers them, and then centrally locates them in Aragua,” one of Venezuela’s 23 states.

Humire also noted that a key player in the gang’s creation was Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s former vice president, who is of Syrian descent and has ties to Hezbollah. Before becoming vice president and later minister of industries and minister of petroleum, Aissami was governor of Aragua when the gang was established in 2012.

“During this time, [Aissami] reforms the penal code to create lower barriers of entry for the police forces, which allowed them to become increasingly corrupted by these new consolidated prison gangs,” Humire explained. “He created the conditions and incentives to empower what was previously known as the prime prison system, which was loosely composed of prison gangs, to consolidate it and essentially organize it almost like an army.”

As a result, the Venezuelan government essentially weaponized its prison system to create a gang that has gone on to become the fastest-growing transnational criminal organization in the world. Not unlike how Iran empowered Hezbollah, which began in Lebanon in 1992 and now has cells scattered across the globe.

Humire warns that the same corrupt immigration agency in Venezuela that gave out false travel documents to Hezbollah operatives has likely done the same for Aragua gang members so that the government — through the gang — can control the flow of the migrants into our communities.

“Through this process, the Venezuelan government also has the ability to know the exact travel patterns and so they can anticipate it,” Humire said. “They can move in front of it. And they can start to co-opt it along the way. You don’t get that information unless you’re talking to the ministries in Venezuela.”

In short, we are facing a gang with MS-13-level brutality that is even more brazen in its assaults against Americans and our police, even more closely involved in the trafficking of illegal aliens, and most likely being directed by a foreign terror state.

This is why we cannot sit around while Republicans waste our leverage and fail to fight the invasion. States must begin arresting and removing criminal aliens. States should also designate Tren de Aragua as a transnational gang and pass criminal statutes with sentencing enhancements for gang membership. Thus, if an Aragua member is arrested for stealing a cell phone, he would be punished with greater severity than in a typical petty theft case.

We have a short window to combat this blight before it becomes a permanent fixture in our society. Rather than engaging in photo ops at the border, governors must act decisively to root out criminal alien gangsters. Unless and until we allow states to begin removing criminal aliens, there will be more Laken Rileys.

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?
Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz

Blaze Podcast Host

Daniel Horowitz is the host of “Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz” and a senior editor for Blaze News. He writes on the most decisive battleground issues of our times, including the theft of American sovereignty through illegal immigration, theft of American liberty through tyranny, and theft of American law and order through criminal justice “reform.”
@RMConservative →