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U.S. dismantles Louisiana based Tren de Aragua sex trafficking network

Among the accused is Josmar Jesús Zambrano Chirinos, an alleged ringleader of the notorious Venezuelan Tren de Aragua criminal group

Acusado de tráfico
Albert Herrera Machado | Captura de pantalla

May 31, 2024 12:56am

Updated: May 31, 2024 9:17am

In a joint law enforcement operation, U.S. authorities dismantled a sex trafficking network that operated in several states of the country, involving three Venezuelan citizens. Among the accused is Josmar Jesús Zambrano Chirinos, an alleged ringleader of the notorious Venezuelan Tren de Aragua transnational criminal gang.

Josmar Jesús Zambrano Chirinos, identified as the leader of this sex trafficking operation, has been linked to the “Aragua Train,” a dangerous criminal gang that emerged in a Venezuelan prison.

Along with him, Allbert Herrera Machado and Osleidy Vanesa Chourio Díaz have also been accused of participating in the criminal network. According to court documents, this organization has affected at least two identified victims, operating in Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, New Jersey and Florida.

The investigation began on April 17, when the Border Patrol Intelligence Unit in El Paso, Texas, alerted the Department of Homeland Security Investigations office in Baton Rouge about a possible case of sex trafficking. U.S. authorities also coordinated the arrest of the transnational gang members with the East Baton Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. 

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, also located in Baton Rouge, are now handling the criminal complaint. 

One of the victims, whose identity has not been revealed, claimed to be under the control of Zambrano Chirinos, identifying him as the leader of the sex trafficking operation in the United States.

According to her testimony, Zambrano Chirinos paid for her illegal entry into the country through El Paso, Texas, and then sexually exploited her. The victim stated that any attempt to resist would result in threats of harm or death to her children, in the hands of the Aragua Train. He even reported that his mother was murdered by this gang on April 29, according to what his aunt informed him.

The victim estimated that at least 30 women could be in similar situations within the United States, being exploited by this criminal organization.

The operation culminated in the arrest of the suspects on April 26, after receiving a call to the 911 emergency number from a woman who claimed to be being forced to have sex for money. In a raid on a Baton Rouge residence, authorities found sex toys, more than $1,000 in cash and a ledger with records of the victims' alleged debts.

Allbert Herrera Machado, detained in the operation, confessed that his function was to find clients for the exploited women. He claimed that he had arrived in the United States only two weeks ago and began working there out of necessity. His bail was set at $200,000.

Homeland Security agents believe that there are more stash houses distributed throughout the eastern United States, which could be located thanks to the evidence obtained during the arrest of Zambrano and Chourio Díaz.

This case highlights the international expansion of the Aragua Train, whose influence has extended beyond Venezuela, reaching various cities in Latin America and now also the United States