Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Inside gang-run jail with gun-toting lags who ‘fed enemies to crocodiles’

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    A formerly gang-controlled prison in Venezuela has a zoo with flamingos as well as its own nightclub. And a reputation for extreme violence.

    This week thousands of government troops clashed with Tren de Aragua gang members and finally regained control of Tocorón prison, in the north of the country. It had been under the gang's control for years.

    Government forces were stunned to find lags living in luxury. Rows of homes formed a village where inmates lived with their families and by day they swam in the pool or lounged under umbrellas. At night they hit the prison disco or gambled in a casino.

    READ MORE: Lavish prison with pool, nightclub and zoo becomes warzone as 11,000 troops battle gang

    For the latest news and wild tales from life behind bars, click here.

    However, not everyone who passes through Venezuela's prisons has lived it large. Luidig Ochoa, who was sentenced to six years in prison for a street gang shooting in 2000, served in both the Tocoron and Yare jails. He recalled how enemies of the ruling gang were fed to crocodiles. One lag kept attack dogs in their cell to warn off intruders in the "city within a prison"

    Ochoa told The Telegraph: "There is shooting, everything is settled with guns. They don’t shoot to scare people, they shoot to kill.

    "There’s no death penalty in Venezuela, but everyone in prison is potentially facing death."

    A total of 11,000 troopers were sent to battle against the mega-gang inside Tocorón prison. The controlling Tren de Aragua gang was headed by Héctor Guerrero Flores – known as 'Warrior Boy' – who was serving a 17-year sentence for murder and drug trafficking.

    Government officials orchestrated a pre-dawn swoop on the jail – two hours outside Venezuela's capital Caracas – after local aid organisations reported the activities inside. Senior gang leaders escaped before security forces arrived and Flores's whereabouts are unknown.

    Drone images of the operation showed a large crowd of women and children – relatives of inmates – being expelled from the prison.

    One woman said: "I am waiting to hear where they are taking my husband. I was living in there but they kicked us out.''

    The gang has been linked to kidnappings, robberies, drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion and illegal gold mining.

    It is not clear what provoked the clampdown after years in which Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro's government openly adopted a hands-off approach to prison administration.

    One theory is the president – viewed as a dictator by several western governments including the US and UK – is trying to clean up his image before elections next year.

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    • Prison News
    • Crime
    • Police
    • Crocodiles
    • Gangs

    Source: Read Full Article

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