Donald Trump at his hush money trial
Donald Trump at his hush money trial AFP / Seth Wenig

Former president and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump claimed, without evidence, that crime rates in Venezuela have dropped drastically because the country is sending gang members to the United States.

"Crime rates in Venezuela have dropped by 72% because they don't have the criminals. They are putting gang members on buses and sending them to our country," Trump said during a rally in Phoenix, Arizona.

It's not the first time Trump has made such statements. In late April he used the same figure and said his opponent in the 2024 elections, President Joe Biden, "let them do it." When asked where the figures came from, Trump said "I guess I took it from the papers, I think it's a federal statement or... well, they come from Venezuela."

Recent figures have indeed shown a drop in Venezuela's crime rates, likely resulting from shifts within the country's criminal landscape than from effective state interventions.

In mid-May, Venezuelan security officials announced a 25.1% drop in crime indicators compared to 2023. The data is similar to that of the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia – OVV), an organization analyzing violence and insecurity across the country.

Criminal groups have reportedly migrated from Venezuela, as the country's ongoing economic crisis has severely impacted both ordinary citizens and criminal organizations, reducing opportunities for extortion and ransom kidnappings.

However, there is little evidence they have gone to the U.S. Prominent gangs such as Tren de Aragua, Yeico Masacre, and The Meleán have moved operations to Venezuelan diasporas in other Latin American countries. This migration has led to increased violence and crime in nations like Chile, Colombia, and Peru, where these gangs have capitalized on the vulnerabilities of migrants and the lack of regional cooperation among authorities.

As for the U.S., a recent report by specialized outlet InSight crime, which included inquiries to law enforcement agencies across various levels of government, has revealed scant evidence supporting such claims, especially regarding Tren de Aragua, the country's most salient criminal organization.

Reports linking Tren de Aragua members to criminal activities in the United States have surfaced sporadically in recent months. However, the investigation said, these incidents appear to have been isolated and lack clear ties to the gang's leadership in Venezuela.

Despite Republican lawmakers claiming that Tren de Aragua members have been involved in heinous crimes like child rape, investigations have failed to substantiate such allegations. Major law enforcement agencies in urban centers across the US, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, and New York City, report no notable presence or criminal activity linked to the gang within their jurisdictions. The only specific mention came from NYPD, which told local outlets that Tren de Aragua was linked to a series of cell phone robberies.

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