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FBI warns Venezuelan, other foreign gangs ‘exploiting migratory surge’ at U.S. border

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Venezuelan officials warn that the leader of the Tren de Aragua gang escaped from prison last year and could be hiding in the United States. The Venezuelan gang is exploiting the migratory surge at the United States border, and the FBI warns it is likely making alliances with the violent Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

According to veteran FBI agent John Morales, a special agent in charge of the El Paso division in Texas, amidst the growing violence in the United States, MS-13 and other dangerous gangs could form a temporary alliance.

“Although these gangs normally do not mix, it will always be a concern as the [Tren de Aragua] band grows stronger and establishes a foothold,” Morales explained. “At this moment, we are working with our local law enforcement partners and sharing intelligence to stop the growth of the Tren de Aragua.”

Members of these two criminal groups have been detected in U.S. cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Chicago, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Immigration officials say that criminals are illegally remaining in the U.S. after they are released from immigration detention centers, committing violent crimes, including murders.

Between October 2022 and September 2023, Border Patrol agents detained 41 members of the Tren de Aragua along the southern border, and now FBI agents are asking Venezuelan migrants to report gang members in exchange for witness protection and temporary visas.

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Immigration

DOJ federal indictment connects Sinaloa Cartel and Chinese ‘underground banking’

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The Justice Department (DOJ) announced a huge connection between Chinese organized crime and the Sinaloa drug cartel. In a press release the DOJ reported a 10-count superseding indictment charging Los Angeles-based associates of Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel with conspiring with money-laundering groups linked to Chinese underground banking to launder drug trafficking proceeds. During the conspiracy, more than $50 million in drug proceeds flowed between the Sinaloa Cartel associates and Chinese underground money exchanges.”

The indictment was the result of a multi-year investigation into the conspiracy—dubbed “Operation Fortune Runner”— unsealed on Monday charging a total of 24 defendants with one count of conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to the press release.

“Dangerous drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine are destroying people’s lives but drug traffickers only care about their profits,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “To protect our community, therefore, it is essential that we go after the sophisticated, international criminal syndicates that launder the drug money. As this indictment and our international actions show, we will be dogged in our pursuit of all those who facilitate destruction in our country and make sure they are held accountable for their actions.”

“Drug traffickers generate immense amounts of cash through their illicit operations. This case is a prime example of Chinese money launderers working hand in hand with drug traffickers to try to legitimize profits generated by drug activities,” said Chief Guy Ficco of IRS Criminal Investigation. “We have made it a priority to identify, disrupt, and dismantle any money launderers working with drug cartels and we are committed to our partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to combat drug cartels and those who assist them in laundering drug proceeds.”

The Justice.Gov website explains of the indictment: “Following close coordination with the Justice Department, Chinese and Mexican law enforcement informed United States authorities that those countries recently arrested fugitives named in the superseding indictment who fled the United States after they were initially charged last year.”

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