The Venezuelan government invited reporters to visit the Tocoron Penitentiary Center in Aragua state on Saturday. This happened after security forces took back control of the prison from gangsters who had been in charge for a long time.
The Tocoron prison, which is one of the biggest in the country, used to be controlled by the prisoners themselves. Many of these prisoners were members of a powerful criminal gang called “Train of Aragua,” named after the state in which Tocoron is situated, as per the Venezuelan Information Ministry.
On Wednesday, the Venezuelan security forces, which include the Army and National Guard, carried out a special operation with over 11,000 people to take back control of the prison area.
Venezuela’s Interior Minister, Remigio Ceballos, said that the operation went really well. On Saturday, during a visit with the media, Ceballos announced that security forces had arrested 80 important members of the Tren de Aragua gang after taking control of the prison.
Ceballos said that the government did not talk with gang leaders before the operation, despite what the media said.
We have completely taken apart the leaders of the group called ‘Tren de Aragua. ‘ “They have left,” he said to CNN in Spanish.
Reporters, including a team from CNNe, were taken to see where prisoners had created a swimming pool and some restaurants within the prison walls in recent times. Authorities shared pictures of the weapons found during the raid on prisoners. These weapons included guns that can shoot many bullets quickly, like automatic rifles and machine guns. They also found lots of bullets.
According to the Venezuelan Information Ministry, many prisoners were moved to different prisons after the operation. But, the family members of prisoners disagree with these statements and say that they haven’t talked to their loved ones since the morning when the operation took place.
“I haven’t received any updates since Wednesday,” said Claribel Rojas, whose brother is incarcerated in the Tocoron prison, in an interview on Saturday with CNNe. “I was here both yesterday and today, but nobody has said anything. ”
In Venezuela, it is common for gangs to control prisons. The Tocoron Penitentiary is extremely famous in the country because it represents how the government can’t regain control in recent years.
The Tren de Aragua is the strongest criminal gang in Venezuela. Recently, it has started to do more work in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina, says the US State Department.