July 15, 2024
Venezuelan Gang Members Arrested Thousands of Miles from Border

Venezuelan Gang Members Arrested Thousands of Miles from Border

(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) – Venezuelan Tren de Aragua prison gang members are being arrested thousands of miles from the border after having illegally entered the U.S. in Texas.

The Venezuelan prison gang is well-known for orchestrating murders, bribery schemes and money laundering, drug and arms trafficking, and kidnappings for ransom money. In March, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Maria Elvira Salazar, both Florida Republicans, called on the president to officially designate Tren de Aragua as a Transnational Criminal Organization.

“Tren de Aragua is an invading criminal army from a prison in Venezuela that has spread their brutality and chaos to U.S. cities and small towns,” they said. “If left unchecked, they will unleash an unprecedented reign of terror, mirroring the devastation it has already inflicted in communities throughout Central and South America, most prominently in Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. The breadth of Tren de Aragua’s operations encompasses murder, drug and human trafficking, sex crimes, extortion, and kidnapping, among other brutalities.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations agents (ICE-ERO) recently arrested Venezuelan Tren de Aragua members in New York City and Chicago, but deportation efforts were foiled by federal or local policies.

On May 10, ICE-ERO-New York City agents arrested Johan Jose Cardenas Silva who was wanted by Peruvian authorities for conspiracy, assault and aggravated theft. This was two months after New York City Police Department officers arrested him in March and charged him on various firearm and drug charges.

“This international fugitive mistakenly thought he could waltz into the United States to not only evade justice in other countries, but to continue his criminality with impunity,” ICE-ERO New York City Field Office Director Kenneth Genalo said. “His history of lawless behavior and membership in a violent international criminal organization clearly demonstrate that he is a serious threat to the public safety.”

Despite Genalo’s claims, Cardenas was released from an ICE detention center in October 2023.

After illegally entering the U.S. in Del Rio, Texas, Border Patrol agents apprehended him on Oct. 4, 2022, determined he unlawfully entered the U.S. and issued him a notice and order of expedited removal.

On Jan. 19, 2023, ICE-ERO-San Antonio agents served him with a notice to appear before an immigration judge and in March 2023, an immigration judge ordered that he be removed from the United States.

He was not removed. Instead, on Oct. 5, 2023, he was released from ICE’s Stewart County Detention Center “on an order of supervision to report to New York City; however, he never reported as directed,” according to ICE.

He did travel to New York City but was arrested on March 27 by NYPD officers and charged with “criminal possession of a weapon-second degree: loaded firearm; criminal possession weapon-second degree: loaded firearm on school grounds; criminal possession-controlled substance-5th: intent to sell; and act in manner injure child less than 17.”

On the same day, the Bronx Criminal Court arraigned and released him on his own recognizance despite his criminal history and before ICE-ERO could place another immigration detainer. “Due to the New York state’s Protect Our Courts Act, ERO New York City was precluded from arresting Cardenas upon his release,” ICE said.

Cardenas went on to reportedly commit additional crimes and was again arrested. On April 1, the Nassau County Police Department arrested and charged him with “grand larceny in the fourth degree: value property greater than $1,000 and petit larceny.” Within a month, a district court convicted him and sentenced him to 60 days of jail.

He was being detained in a county correctional facility until he was arrested and removed by ICE and is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings. ICE agents also received notification that Cardenas was an international fugitive wanted by Peruvian authorities with an arrest warrant from October 2018.

In Chicago, ICE-ERO-Chicago agents arrested another Venezuelan Tren de Aragua member in March who was a subject of a Chicago Police Department investigation for a drive-by shooting in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood.

This was after he was first arrested for illegally entering the country near Eagle Pass, Texas, in 2022.

Border Patrol agents first arrested Adelvis Rodriguez-Carmona near Eagle Pass on July 7, 2022, and placed him into removal proceedings. He was then released into the country on his own recognizance and ordered to appear before an immigration judge, which he failed to do. One year later, on July 7, 2023, an immigration judge issued a final order for his removal in absentia.

By Feb. 24, 2024, he was arrested by Cicero Police Department officers in Illinois for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, not having a firearms identification card, driving without a license or insurance, and possession of adult use cannabis in a motor vehicle. He was later released.

Just a few weeks later, on March 11, ICE-ERO officers arrested him without incident. He is currently detained in ICE’s Dodge County Detention Facility in Juneau, Wisconsin, pending immigration removal proceedings.

“This Venezuelan noncitizen represented a significant threat to the residents of our communities,” ICE-ERO Chicago Assistant Field Office Director Raymond Hernandez said. “Not only is he a validated member of a transnational street gang, but he also displayed a willingness to unlawfully discharge a firearm in public. ERO Chicago will continue to prioritize public safety by removing such threats from our streets.”

Rubio and Salazar warned, “Tren de Aragua has plunged communities into chaos” in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Peru. “They have sown fear and instability, undermining the credibility of government institutions, as well as the safety and security of innocent civilians. … We cannot permit our cities to become battlegrounds for such organizations, nor can we allow our citizens to suffer at their hands.”

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