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Tren de Aragua gang tied to over 100 investigations, including shootings and sex trafficking crimes: Report
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Tren de Aragua gang tied to over 100 investigations, including shootings and sex trafficking crimes: Report

Gang members are hard-to-identify 'ghost criminals.'

The violent Venezuelan gang Tren de Aragua has been tied to more than 100 criminal investigations in the United States, according to a Wednesday NBC News report.

The news outlet stated that U.S. law enforcement and immigration officials have initiated investigations involving shootings and sex trafficking crimes that are linked to the criminal organization.

New York Police Department officials have referred to Tren de Aragua members as "ghost criminals" because there is little information available to identify them other than their gang-affiliated tattoos.

Jason Savino, the NYPD's assistant chief of detectives, told NBC News, "Their identity may be misrepresented; their date of birth may be misrepresented."

"Everything about that individual could potentially be misrepresented," he added.

Before reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, many illegal aliens toss their identification cards and passports to prevent law enforcement agents from identifying them.

Venezuela does not cooperate with the U.S. to provide criminal background information about its citizens. Therefore, Customs and Border Protection agents have limited information about the potential criminal history of Venezuelan citizens crossing the border. Additionally, Venezuela largely refuses to accept deportation flights.

Former Border Patrol agent Ammon Blair told NBC News that U.S. border officials will only have access to a Venezuelan national's criminal history if they obtain the information from Interpol or that individual already has a criminal record in the U.S.

DHS' Homeland Security Investigation told the news outlet that it has over 100 open investigations involving members of the gang.

Last month, HSI arrested three Tren de Aragua members who were accused of running a sex trafficking operation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The gang members allegedly forced Venezuelan women into sex work to pay off smuggler debt for bringing them into the U.S. The individuals were reportedly apprehended by Border Patrol agents in Texas after illegally crossing into the country but later released.

Law enforcement agents in Indiana are investigating another suspected sex trafficking operation involving Tren de Aragua members.

On June 3, two NYPD officers were shot by a Venezuelan national illegally in the U.S. and believed to be a member of the gang. NBC News reported that it is unclear whether the suspect's involvement with the gang was known to Venezuelan authorities.

"While the group is well established in many South American countries," an Interpol spokesperson stated, "there is evidence that it is now expanding North, into Mexico and the United States, where key Tren de Aragua members have already been identified."

A DHS spokesperson told NBC News, "DHS screens and vets individuals prior to their entry to the United States. If an individual poses a threat to national security or public safety, we deny admission, detain, remove, or refer them to other federal agencies for further vetting, investigation and/or prosecution as appropriate."

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →