The ‘most disruptive’ Latin American gang has reached the United States

“We have the most violent gang that the United States has perhaps seen in the last 20 years,” Aristide Jimenez, a former special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told CNN. It is only a matter of time before the “Tren de Aragua” criminal gang begins to displace other gangs, he added.

The Tren de Aragua is today “the most disruptive criminal organization” in Latin America, according to Óscar Naranjo, former Colombian vice president and retired police general.

For more than a year, CNN en Español investigated the trajectory of the “Tren de Aragua” and produced an hour-long documentary in which journalists discovered that American authorities had mentioned the gang in complaints or arrests in at least 70 cases.

The film was produced as part of “Narcofiles: The New Criminal Order,” an international investigation into modern organized crime and those who fight it. The collaboration involved more than 40 media outlets from Latin America, Europe and the United States. The investigation began with the leak of seven million emails from the Colombian attorney general’s office, shared by two organizations, Distributed Denial of Secrets and Enlace Hacktivista.

According to CNN en Español, the presence of Tren de Aragua has been detected or studied in six American states: Florida, Georgia, New York, Illinois, Texas and Louisiana.

In Louisiana, for example, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services identified a sex trafficking group whose leaders allegedly belong to this criminal organization, according to an email sent by the US Immigration Service to CNN. This would be the first case in which members of the gang were arrested for committing crimes in the United States.

The documentary depicts the cruelty that characterized the gang’s operations and features a series of testimonies from its victims. The crimes they have been associated with include, among others, homicide, extortion, human and arms trafficking, and sexual exploitation.

In November last year, OCCRP reported signs that the gang could also be expanding into the United States.