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Venezuelan gang-run jail with its own nightclub, zoo and swimming pool recaptured by military

today26/09/2023

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More than 11,000 military officers have raided a gang-run jail in Venezuela which was found to have a zoo, swimming pool and nightclub.

Tocorón Penitentiary Center in in the country’s north-central state Aragua, had become the country’s most notorious prison after a gang of inmates had seized control and turned it into headquarters for the Tren de Aragua gang.

The gang have been in control of the prison for several years, allowing prisoners to roam freely, decking the space out with its own games room, children’s play area, swimming pool, gambling rooms, a restaurant, a baseball field, and a nightclub called Tokio – which is Spanish for Tokyo.

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Sky News reported that it had become a “little city”. Footage of the extravagant prison shared on social media shows a small zoo that includes big cats, crocodiles, flamingos and ostriches.

Troops regained control of the prison on September 20, but according to El Nacional, around 400 to 500 prisoners are missing and could be hiding in the nearby mountains.

The leader of the gang, Hector Guerrero Flores, who was serving a 17-year sentence in the prison for murder and drug trafficking, is one of those who did not get captured.

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President Nicolas Maduro posted on Twitter: “I congratulate the more than 11,000 members of the FANB [National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela] and police forces for the successful intervention of the Tocoron Penitentiary Center.

“We are heading towards a Venezuela free of criminal gangs!”

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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