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Venezuelan gangs are importing next-level brutality, fear to our streets. We must stop them now

OpinionVenezuelan gangs are importing next-level brutality, fear to our streets. We must stop them now

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The strangling of a retired policeman in Miami-Dade County. The public beating of New York City law enforcement in Times Square. The sex trafficking of five women in suburban Indianapolis. These crimes took place hundreds of miles apart from each other, but they are united by their depravity and the sadistic gang that allegedly committed them: Tren de Aragua.  

This isn’t some group that popped up overnight. Venezuelan-Americans in Miami-Dade have warned for some time about Tren de Aragua. These criminals originated in Venezuela, but they left their homeland and spent the last few years sowing fear and instability in Chile and Peru, and spreading absolute chaos in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. They specialize in extortion, kidnapping, murder, sex slavery and the drug trade.  

Now, thanks to an open southern border, Tren de Aragua is setting up shop in U.S. cities. President Joe Biden must mobilize federal resources to counter this gang before it takes deeper root in our communities. This means designating it a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO). Joining me in this call is Representative María Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., as well as 21 other members of Congress. 

MARYLAND BURGLARS LINKED TO SOUTH AMERICAN THEFT GROUP CONNECTED TO CASES IN MULTIPLE STATES: POLICE

There’s no time to lose, because Tren de Aragua’s highly publicized crimes are only the tip of the iceberg. Its “stabbings, assaults and robberies” are on the rise in several metropolitan areas. Moreover, the FBI fears the gang’s leaders are forming an alliance with Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the nightmarish Salvadoran gang notorious for beheading four Long Island teenagers in 2017. 

Three migrants caught on video attacking two NYPD police officers on Jan. 27 in Times Square. Federal officials said at least two of the migrants charged in the attack are members of the notorious Venezuelan street gang “Tren de Aragua.” (NYPD/Manhattan DA)

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This is what happens when you release an untold number, likely in the millions, of illegal migrants. But now is not the time to hang our heads in despair. President Biden must immediately reverse course and enforce the law to limit the consequences of his recklessness. 

Specifically, designating Tren de Aragua a TCO would empower the federal government to impose sanctions on the gang and its members by freezing their assets and restricting their travel. It would also prompt federal agencies to prioritize Tren de Aragua. The FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security would increase their collaboration with each other and international partners to investigate and dismantle these criminal invaders.  

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Would any of these changes be a silver bullet? No. But they would put us in the right direction. Absent action, there is a very real chance that our cities will begin to resemble the Latin American communities in which Tren de Aragua rose to power: places where people do not go out at night, extortion is a part of everyday life, and fear of brutality, rather than respect for law and order, rules the streets.  

Such an outcome should be intolerable for all U.S. policymakers, not least our commander in chief. For the sake of all Tren de Aragua’s innocent victims, past, present and future, I urge President Biden to heed Congress’s advice and stop this gang’s advancement. 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SEN. MARCO RUBIO

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