• Bad Moped Hombres In NYC To Team With MS-13?

    February 14, 2024
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    El Tren de Argua in their native Vanezuelan habitat (YouTube screencap).

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    How To Avoid Being Targeted By Venezuelan Moped Gangs

    Perhaps you've seen news about moped theft in New York. The perpetrators are from a Venezuelan gang, Tren de Aragua. "Tren" means train, Aragua is a northern Venezuelan province known for its lawlessness.

    As reported in the New York Post,

    But from October 2022 to September 2023, more than 334,000 Venezuelans crossed the border — second only to 735,000 Mexicans — with Tren de Aragua playing a key part in trafficking many from Venezuela. “When they crossed the border into Colombia, they began to control everyone’s passage, charging fees to other Venezuelans to make the crossing,” said Robert Almonte, a security consultant and former US marshal in El Paso. Border Patrol agents apprehended 41 Tren de Aragua members crossing the border between October 2022 and September 2023, according to US Customs and Border Protection. The only signs that they belong to the ruthless group are tattoos featuring rifles and skulls, Almonte said — although they have started telling new members not to get tattoos in order to evade police.

    Since when does the press blur the faces of criminals? (YouTube screencap)

    Their method is simple: the moped driver drives. The passenger spots targets and grabs their phones and purses.Purses are a bonus. The thieves' primary target: smart phones. Their goal is to snatch unlocked phones and keep them unlocked in order to drain accounts and make purchases. Consider how many apps you have linked to a bank account and/or credit card. Victims' losses are often significant. Thereafter, the phones are shipped back to Venezuela to be wiped and resold. The cumulative haul from a single phone could easily total several thousand dollars.

    Tren de Aragua is a well-organized group. If they lack manpower stateside, they make up for with recruitment. Any migrant with a moped is a potential perpetrator.

    Don't Be A Victim: Tips

    • Don't Use Your Phone On The Street. The silver lining to this dark cloud is the gang's predictability. For now, they are focused on UNLOCKED phones. Wait till you're inside a cab or the subway.
    • Look And Listen For Mopeds. If you must use your phone, keep an ear out for the high-pitched putt-putt of a two-stroke motor. Consider any moped with two passengers a threat.
    • Don't Be The Ideal Target: A woman, alone, bent over her phone on a city sidewalk, purse hanging from a shoulder.
    • Cover Up Flashy Jewelry On The Street. Evergreen advice in any city.

    Limited NYPD Success

    The good news? New York's Finest have had success in identifying and arresting some of the perpetrators. Victor Parra, a Venezuelan migrant, appears to be the senior officer of the NYC smart phone operation. Unfortunately, Parra was released without bail after a grand larceny charge. He is still at large.

    Joining Forces With MS-13? What Could Go Wrong?

    MS-13 member deep in thought (YouTube screencap)

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation stirred the speculation pot yesterday when El Paso-based Agent John Morales shared his opinion that El Tren de Aragua might join forces with the notorious Los Angeles/Northern Mexico gang MS-13.

    As reported by the Post Millennial, U.S. Marshal Robert Almonte sees it differently. The more likely scenario, in Alamonte's mind? "[That] turf wars break out as each gang fights to control their own criminal enterprise."

    Gang wars on the streets of New York? That's nothing new. The difference this time is that neither gang is from the United States.

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