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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Videos emerged whilst security forces were clearing the Tocoron prison in Aragua today showing a zoo that was inside the prison grounds, prisoners families including children were also living in a barrio inside the prison. #Venezuela pic.twitter.com/zpQo4Y1gYV
— CNW (@ConflictsW) September 20, 2023
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.
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!”
Felicito a los más de 11 mil efectivos de la FANB y fuerzas policiales por la exitosa intervención del Centro Penitenciario de Tocorón. Ahora nos preparamos para la segunda fase de la Operación de Liberación Cacique Guaicaipuro. ¡Vamos hacia una Venezuela libre de bandas… pic.twitter.com/nglrnXJbEM
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) September 20, 2023
Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins