Venezuela prison recapture
Venezuelan authorities show off the weapons they seized when they stormed the gang-held Tocoron jail with 11,000 police and soldiers AFP / YURI CORTEZ

South American authorities are currently on the lookout for Héctor Guerrero Flores, the Venezuelan gang leader who successfully escaped a luxurious prison he controlled shortly before it was raided.

The Tocorón jail in Venezuela, which was previously under the control of Guerrero Flores, was raided by 11,000 soldiers and police personnel last week.

However, authorities were unable to apprehend the gang leader who had already escaped after allegedly being tipped off about the operation that had been in planning for a year.

Guerrero Flores, a 39-year-old man from Aragua state and leader of the Tren de Aragua gang, has a history of frequenting the Tocorón prison for more than a decade. The prison served as the Tren de Aragua gang's headquarters and was used as a hub for their international criminal activities.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro initially declared the raid a success, and news of Guerrero Flores' escape was not made public until three days later when the Venezuelan interior ministry offered a reward for information leading to his capture.

Authorities from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Venezuela are currently collaborating to locate and apprehend Guerrero Flores in order to bring him to justice and dismantle his criminal network.

Despite Guerrero Flores' escape, Maduro has vowed to punish those responsible for the corruption that allowed inmates to become aware of the security operation.

Guerrero Flores successfully escaped from Tocorón prison in 2012 after bribing security guards. However, he was apprehended again in 2013 and returned to the same facility, where his power and influence continued to increase over time. This allowed him to have the freedom to enter and exit the prison at his will.

Under his rule, the prison transformed into a facility resembling a luxury resort, complete with a small zoo, a nightclub and a swimming pool. Inmates enjoyed a variety of amenities, including a bank, a betting shop, a restaurant and a baseball field while their families lived on the premises.

The Tren de Aragua is Venezuela's most powerful criminal organization, which indulges in criminal activities including sex trafficking, contract killing and abductions. The gang has expanded its operations into Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina in recent years, as per the U.S. State Department.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.