- Venezuela has reportedly conducted an operation involving 11K security forces personnel to retake “total control” of a prison that had been run by a powerful gang for years.1
- Members of the Tren de Aragua controlled the Tocoron prison where they were allowed to roam freely and enjoy hotel-like amenities including a pool, nightclub, and a mini zoo. Family members and partners of the inmates also lived in the penitentiary.2
- The Venezuelan government released a statement Wednesday congratulating law enforcement for seizing control of the prison and added that the operation had 'dismantled a center of conspiracy and crime.' Pres. Nicolas Maduro called the mission a 'great success.'3
- Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos told state media that the prison would be completely evacuated and that the inmates were being transferred to another facility. Family members say they were kicked out and shouted, 'That’s ours!' as police seized items such as motorcycles and televisions.1
- However, some inmates escaped during the operation, and the leader of Tren de Aragua, Hector Rutherford Guerrero Flores, known as 'El Niño Guerrero,' has not been captured. Some reports suggest Guerrero was allowed to operate his gang from the prison with the quiet support of the government.4
- The Venezuelan government says it will now start the 'second phase' of its operation which includes searching for and capturing 'fugitive' criminals.5
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Telesur english. Venezuelan forces conducted an extremely successful and well-coordinated takedown of the gang-run Tocoron prison and cleared inmates out of the facility. The government will now embark on phase two where it will hunt down any fugitive that escaped the initial raid. After years of living in luxury, members of the Tren de Aragua gang are finally being held accountable, and Venezuelan authorities are rightfully cracking down on criminal enterprises.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Caracas chronicles. After years of allowing one of Venezuela’s most brutal gangs to turn a prison into a de facto luxury resort, authorities have finally done something about the situation. However, the fact that the gang’s leader hasn’t been captured shows that the notoriously corrupt Venezuelan government may have let the career criminal off the hook. The Torocon prison is emblematic of Venezuela’s declining criminal justice system, and it seems that the government is still allowing shady activities even when it claims to “crackdown” on crime.