Chilean authorities are on high alert due to reports that a Venezuelan gang known as the Tren de Aragua is involved in the smuggling of migrants in the country, further proof that the group is expanding in the region, he noted. InSight Crime.
Chilean prosecutors have opened at least four investigations based on local media reports which indicate that the members of the Aragua Train are involved in the illegal transport of migrants from Bolivia to Santiago de Chile.
At least 9 or 10 members of the gang have been arrested for helping some 3,600 migrants to enter Chile, such as reported Mega Noticias on October 15, based on an investigation by the prosecution in the north-central region of Chile.
According to the prosecutor Carolina Suazo, of the North Prosecutor’s Office, some witnesses speak of the participation of the Aragua Train in the transfer of migrants through remote border crossings, under risky conditions.
The first reports of the group’s presence in Chile date back to March 2021, when about 21 migrants reported that they were attacked by Venezuelan armed men because they refused to pay to cross the border, according to a report from Third.
Chilean police has found other cases of migrants who have been shot by alleged members of the Aragua Train due to disputes over payments.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Aragua Train has progressively expanded throughout South America, often following migrant smuggling routes. In 2020, InSight Crime named the group as the “criminal winner”Of the year, due to its expansion in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil.
And now it seems that Chile and Bolivia can be added to this list of countries in which the group has a presence.
The Aragua Train has expanded enormously since its inception in Aragua state, where it began to participate in drug and arms trafficking and vehicle theft. In 2021 it was confirmed the presence of the group in the remote trails between Venezuela and Colombia, where the control of lucrative criminal economies, such as the smuggling of migrants, was disputed. This put it in conflict with the National Liberation Army (THE N), which is perhaps the most powerful criminal actor in the region, noted InSight Crime.
The fact that it faces an adversary of this caliber is evidence of the capacity of permanence of the Tren de Aragua.
The recent accusations by Chile would represent a significant expansion of the operations of the Aragua Train, which would go from being a very specific transnational gang of Venezuela, to becoming a true regional threat.
Chilean authorities have been on high alert due to the increase in the entry of migrants to the country in recent months, and is likely to test the resilience of the Venezuelan gang. However, if the Tren de Aragua is permanently established in Chile and Bolivia, it could well expand to other significant cross-border economies, particularly drug trafficking and smuggling.