Posted on February 14, 2024

Deadly Alliance Brewing Between MS-13 and Bloodthirsty Venezuelan Gang Behind NYC Cellphone Robberies, FBI Fears

Isabel Vincent, New York Post, February 13, 2024

A brutal Venezuelan gang that has used the border crisis to set up in New York could join forces with the feared MS-13, a senior FBI agent has told The Post.

Tren de Aragua, which law enforcement is warning is rapidly expanding its criminal empire with a spate of brazen phone robberies in the five boroughs, is a priority for the FBI, agent John Morales said.

Morales, the special agent in charge of the El Paso division in Texas, said the agency is closely monitoring Tren de Aragua’s growth and is concerned about it forming alliances with existing networks.

The Post revealed Monday how the Venezuelan gang, which established a bloody crime network across South America, is replicating its methods in New York, recruiting among new migrants at shelters to set up cellphone robbery gangs — and using its international reach to traffic the phones to Colombia to be resold.

Now Morales is warning that it, MS-13 and other gangs could become temporary allies — and said the FBI is actively sharing intelligence about Tren de Aragua.


Border Patrol agents apprehended 41 Tren de Aragua members along the US southern border between October 2022 and September 2023 {snip}

“Their first victims are their fellow Venezuelans,” said Morales, adding that the gang tries to recruit new members among their own migrant community.

They extort Venezuelans by demanding that they pay bribes in exchange for protection and even to cross the border from Venezuela into Colombia and from Mexico into the US, he said.


“They are already coming over as hardened criminals,” said Robert Almonte, a security consultant and former US marshal in El Paso.


The gang’s name translates as “Train of Aragua,” referring to a province of north-central Venezuela. Tren de Aragua has its origins in a Venezuelan prison and has exploded into Colombia, Peru and Chile, where it is known for the brutal torture and murder of its victims, including prostitutes whom it routinely executes to take control of the sex trade.

In the US, the gang has been making inroads in Chicago and Miami {snip}