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Violent Venezuelan gang, Tren de Aragua, expand its operations in the US
Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images

Violent Venezuelan gang, Tren de Aragua, expand its operations in the US

How Tren de Aragua is taking advantage of the border crisis.

A man kidnapped and murdered in Doral, Florida. Two New York City police officers shot. A sex-trafficking ring that spanned several states broken up by law enforcement in Louisiana. These are some examples of the crimes being committed by a brutal Venezuelan gang called Tren de Aragua.

TDA was formed in the state of Aragua in Venezuela, and its members have followed the wave of Venezuelans who have illegally crossed into the United States during the border crisis triggered by President Joe Biden. In Venezuela, the gang has ties to the Nicolás Maduro regime, often acting as enforcers. They control the vast majority of the criminal underworld and the money-making schemes associated with it.

Venezuelans have been one of largest groups of people who have illegally crossed the southern border under the Biden administration. While many had directly come from Venezuela, others had been living in other Latin American countries since Venezuela's economic downturn. With the initial exodus, TDA members followed.

'These are gang members who exhibit obvious signs of affiliation, ... but it’s fear of action.'

For example, Chile’s Justice Ministry has accused the criminal organization of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a former Venezuelan soldier in Santiago in 2021, according to El País.

While TDA was nearly unheard of by the general public in 2022, recent actions of TDA members are being noticed by both law enforcement and the mainstream media.

The Biden administration was made aware of the growing threat of TDA, but the issue was not taken seriously, according to a source within U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The worry about the growing presence of Latin American gangs within the United States is only heightened with the cases of illegal immigrants with ties to various terrorist groups who have also taken advantage of the border crisis.

"It’s frustrating that no matter the indicators we have about possible TDA members or affiliates, the emphasis on processing, and not enforcement, remains the same. Why is that?" the source told Blaze News.

"We don’t need direct derogatory information like we would for terrorists. These are gang members who exhibit obvious sings of affiliation, ... but it’s fear of action. Fear of appearing to be wrong where Trump was right," the source added.

TDA has a lot in common with El Salvador's MS-13, like the brutality shown to victims, but unlike the gang that terrorized the Central American country for decades, TDA members do not cover themselves head to toe in tattoos. While there are a few tattoos that TDA members wear, they are more often than not hidden or are seemingly generic.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens warned on X in April, "Watch out for this gang. It is the most powerful in Venezuela, known for murder, drug trafficking, sex crimes, extortion, [and] other violent acts," while showing off an illegal immigrant arrested by Border Patrol in Texas with TDA tattoos.

NBC Chicago reported local law enforcement agencies currently have over 100 criminal cases in Illinois and Indiana that are connected to suspected members of TDA. At least two members have been arrested in Cook County for narcotics- and weapons-related charges.

The "vetting" process the Biden administration often touts as a way to reassure Americans of the people it is releasing within the country is hamstrung by Venezuela not sharing criminal histories with Customs and Border Protection, if they even have a history. It is a deadly combination with TDA members who are taking advantage of the border crisis and Democratic jurisdictions who have soft-on-crime policies.

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Julio Rosas

Julio Rosas

Julio Rosas is Blaze Media's National Correspondent.

@Julio_Rosas11 →