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Aragua train: in which countries does the Venezuelan band operate – Venezuela – International

For many in Latin America, the word pranato is little or almost unknown. However, it is beginning to resonate strongly in countries like Colombia o Mexico on behalf of the criminal gang ‘Aragua train’whose crimes are generating terror also in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil.

(Read here: Diosdado: ‘The Aragua train has nothing to do with the government of Venezuela’)

Pranate is a form of criminal organization originating in Venezuela which is made up of the so-called Pranes, an acronym for Preso Rematado Asesino Nato and those who hold power and control in the country’s prisons.

(See here: ‘El Niño Guerrero’, the criminal behind the Aragua Train in Venezuela)

The pran is the highest-ranking inmate in the prison, and therefore the one who controls it, imposes its rules and directs the criminal operations both inside and outside the venue. Hence the call ‘Aragua train’who is part of said mafia whose tentacles broke borders at the head of Héctor Rusthenford Guerrero Flores, better known as ‘El Niño Guerrero’.

In the town of Aragua, 140 kilometers from Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is the Tocorón prison, one of the 52 existing in the country. From there, Guerrero directs the criminal organization with a presence in at least nine Venezuelan states and, more recently, in several Latin American countries through its members who number, according to experts, some 2,500.

The Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP) points out in its August report that within the 31 prisons studied, 46 percent of Venezuelan prisoners are under the control of the pranato (13,939 inmates), 43 percent under a mixed regime (pran and State 12,749 prisoners) and only 11 percent is fully controlled by the State (3,379). Namely, ‘Warrior Boy‘ controls the majority.

It is very difficult for people abroad to understand the situation of the pranes, not because the pranato exists per se, but because the authorities gave these characters so much power.

“For people abroad it is very difficult to understand the situation of the pranes, not because the pranate exists per sebut because the authorities gave so much power to these characters that they self-imposed titles”, says Carolina Girón, director of the OVP.

“If we only talk about the Tocorón prison there are about 6,000 prisonersalthough the capacity of the venue is 750”, Luis Izquiel, criminal lawyer and professor of criminology at the Central University of Venezuela, tells EL TIEMPO.

With swimming pool, disco, religious worship centers, restaurants, game courts and more; tocoron it is a kind of “paradise” for those serving sentences. Of course, if they don’t get into trouble and manage to pay the “cause” required by the pran (a monthly payment that gives them the right to stay in jail), since otherwise the place is hell.

It is estimated that Guerrero annually receives two million dollars just for income from the payment of the “cause”, something that has gained relevance since 2012 and is on the rise, according to Izquiel.

The affirmation coincides with the investigations of the NGO Una Ventana a la Libertad, in charge of the defense of the DD. H H. of the prison population. Carlos Nieto Palma, general coordinator of the entity, recalls that for about 12 years “the pranes assumed control and the State gave in.”

Nieto adds that, with the arrival of Tareck El Aissami As Minister of the Interior and Justice, he was given “free rein” to this entire criminal system. “Even family members entered the prisons to celebrate religious acts, but then they found out about parties and everything got out of control.”

And it is that the pranate It is accompanied by the Venezuelan prison mafias that move large amounts of money. “It was said that prisons were as productive as PDVSA. The mafias are not only prisoners, but also officials from the penitentiary ministry, the National Guard, guards and civilians. Five years ago they produced 5,000,000 dollars per prison, now it can be triple”, Nieto Palma highlights.

However, from Una Ventana a la Libertad they consider that, given that the phenomenon of the expansion of the ‘train of Aragua’ at international level it is something recent, it is not possible to offer more details of how they operate.

Aragua Train

Bodies attributed to the violence of the Aragua train have appeared in Bogotá.

a network of terror

Bagged bodies, dismembered, extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking These are some of the crimes that have caused alarm in the countries where the gang has reached.

Hence the mayor of Bogota, claudia lopezasked ambassadors Armando Benedetti and Félix Plasencia to take action to stop the wave of violence.

From Venezuela, only God given hairvice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, responded by saying that the ‘Aragua train’ has nothing to do with the government.

“If you (Claudia López) have the ‘Aragua train’ there, throw whatever you want at it, that has nothing to do with the Government of Venezuela. The worst thing is that they say that the violence comes from Venezuela. Here we do fight drug trafficking, violence and we have been victims of the violence brought from Colombia,” said Cabello.

For Javier Mayorca, a journalist specializing in criminalistics and a member of the Venezuelan Organized Crime Observatory, the Venezuelan gang is not yet a mafia-type organization but has “taken advantage of the circumstances of the country to expand its operations.”

“With the diaspora, they managed to cross the border, establishing themselves in San Antonio del Táchira, a territory where they dispute control with the ELN. The ‘train (from Aragua)’ has been in position in countries on the continent for several years, but we don’t know if they have crossed the Darién”, explains Mayorca. Unfortunately, the expert points out that the actions of the feared criminal gang have served to further stigmatize Venezuelan migration.

“This gang operates with what is known in the criminal world as a ‘transplanted’ process, given their ability to insert themselves into the local criminal milieu to create alliances or even conflicts,” says Mayorca.

“When you bag a body it is because you want to move it and delay the discovery, in addition to buying time so that there is no evidence left. That has an instrumental objective.” Now, “when they dismember a corpse, the interest is to delay the identification processes and as there is currently no judicial cooperation between Venezuela and Colombia, the risks of impunity are high,” the analyst highlights.

Hence, Mayorca insists on the need for governments to agree to “eliminate political barriers and begin to cooperate in a police manner.” A real challenge in the Colombian case.

Warrior Boy

‘Tren de Aragua’ operates beyond the prison

The ‘Aragua train’ was founded in 2013 by José Álvarez Rojas, alias Chino Pradera, who died in 2016 during a confrontation with the police. At 21 years old, ‘Niño Guerrero’ murdered the policeman Oswaldo Castillo and from there began his rise in the criminal world. Now he is the head of it and has operators in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia.

With the unfinished construction of the railway in Aragua, mafias began for jobs and, later, extortion and kidnapping. Thus, little by little, the organization materialized.

“Outside the prison, the ‘Aragua train’ is in charge of executing crimes such as operating drug trafficking corridors in the state of Sucre to the Caribbean islands, control of gold mines in southern Venezuela and human trafficking. people across the borders of Colombia and Chile”, affirms Izquiel, emphasizing that the only visible head is the ‘Niño Guerrero’. “The rest of the members get to know each other as they are located by the authorities,” he says.

However, in Venezuela there are at least 50 “mega gangs” made up of a minimum of 40 people with a hierarchical structure. Among them, the ‘Tren del Llano’, ‘Los Meleán’, ‘El Wileisis’, ‘El Mayeya’, ‘El Sindicato de Barrancas’ and ‘Yeico Masacre’ stand out.

What is different is that while most of its leaders do not serve prison sentences, those who are imprisoned, such as ‘Niño Guerrero’, operate and extort money through cell phones that they use as contraband in prisons.

For Humberto Prado, director of the Observatory of Prisons in Latin America and the Caribbean, the policy of the Venezuelan State has influenced the extension of these groups. “Starting between 2004 and 2008 with Jesse Chacón as minister. The years 2008 and 2012 with Tareck El Aissami, 2012 and 2019, with Iris Varela and currently with Mirelys Contreras”.

Meanwhile, Venezuela remains one of the countries with the highest homicide rate in the region. 2021 closed with 11,081 murders, that is, 40.9 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, with Caracas being the most violent city, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory.

INTERNATIONAL WRITING
TIME

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