Tren de Aragua, the dreaded band from Venezuela that has expanded throughout Latin America

 In some Latin American countries, acts of violence involving kidnappings, drug trafficking and possession of illicit firearms have become common in recent decades, but in Chile, one of the safest countries on the continent, it is a new practice that causes shock.

After the eviction on June 16 of 23 houses in Cerro Chuño, a poor sector of Arica, in the extreme north of Chile, police found weapons, drugs and the body buried with signs of torture of a man who had already been dead for a month, according to the autopsy.

The agents arrested 17 people who were charged with crimes of trafficking and illicit association for drug trafficking, kidnapping, possession of firearms, among other charges.

The president of Chile expressed his concern and indicated that the capture of those responsible for these violent acts will be considered a priority.

According to the authorities, these people are part of the group “Los Gallegos”, in the wing of the criminal gang of the Tren de Aragua, of Venezuelan origin and who have expanded throughout the Latin American territory.

The Aragua Train, as it is known, was born in the state of the same name, in northern Venezuela, about a decade ago and operating from Tocorón approximately 12 to 14 years ago, led by Héctor Rusthenford Guerrero Flores, alias “Niño Guerrero,” according to experts.

Many of its members are imprisoned in the local prison of Tocorón and from there they direct all illegal actions.

They first expanded outside the prison to other sectors of Aragua state. Then they expanded to the rest of the country: “They are known to be in Sucre state, controlling drug trafficking routes, and engaging in illegal mining in Bolivar state.”

Criminal leaders in Venezuela are known as the “pranes” and Hector Guerrero Flores is perhaps the most important in the entire country.

The Aragua Train initially expanded throughout venezuelan territory, mainly in border areas, but from 2018 its presence in Peru was evident, after the capture of 2 of its members who admitted six homicides under the modality of sicariato.

In neighboring Brazil, authorities have identified links between the Aragua Train and the First Capital Command (PCC), the country’s most important criminal organization — and also born in a penitentiary — in the state of Roraima, which shares a border with Venezuela.

The group’s activities have also been recorded in Colombia. According to specialists, Venezuelan migrants have become the main victims of the criminal organization.

The criminal gang began operating in the border area with Venezuela, between Táchira and Norte de Santander, controlling the border crossing. It has now expanded to several regions of Colombia, including Bogota.

According to Colombian authorities, the criminal group has been fighting since 2021 with other Colombian gangs for control of the drug business in the country’s capital.

In Chile, they already have a more organized structure and obey a leader, some are dedicated to the collection of money, better known as vaccines, others to the handling of armaments, extortion, hitmen, among others.  The money obtained by illicitly acts is sent to Venezuela.

“Normally a criminal organization seeks to act with stealth so as not to arouse greater suspicion. These people do not, their hallmark is to cause fear and for this they occupy the techniques we have seen, homicides and torture,” mario Carrera, who is regional prosecutor of Arica and Parinacota in Chile, said last week during an intervention on the Radio Cooperativa de Chile.

The Aragua Train has also been accused in Chile and other countries of trafficking women for the purpose of sexual exploitation and smuggling of migrants.

Calculating the number of members of the Aragua Train is complicated, but Izquiel estimates that it could be between 2,500 and 3,000 individuals, while Ronna Risquez’s estimate goes up to 5,000.


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