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Border communities struggle to keep up with the migrant crisis

Fox News’ Casey Stegall reports on Kinney County, Texas, becoming a smuggling route for the cartels.

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The infamous and bloodthirsty MS-13 gang may be exploring an alliance with a gang of Venezuelan migrants blamed for a crime wave in New York City and trying to plant roots in other parts of the United States, according to the FBI.

MS-13 is known to pragmatically form and break alliances with other criminal groups, according to an FBI threat assessment, ranging from “tenuous alliances” and “vicious rivalries” depending on its needs.

The NYPD last week announced a crackdown on a Venezuelan gang after linking it to more than 62 robberies in four of the city’s five boroughs. That gang is now believed to be Tren de Aragua, a violent Venezuelan organization with international ambitions.

One attack, caught on video, shows a pair of muggers dragging a woman by her purse from the back of a scooter before they tore it loose and she slid into a metal pole. The gang used social media to recruit thieves to snatch specific model phones, according to the NYPD, and then used hackers to break into them and drain bank accounts and payment apps. 


Carlos Tiberio Ramirez, one of the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang attends the Day of the Virgin of Mercy celebrations at the female prison in San Salvador

Carlos Tiberio Ramirez, one of the leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, attends the Day of the Virgin of Mercy celebrations at the female prison in San Salvador Sept. 24, 2012. Ramirez has been wanted on federal charges out of New York since September 2022 in connection with MS-13’s violent conduct and drug trafficking. (REUTERS/Ulises Rodriguez)

Once the money runs out, the phones are then shipped to Colombia to be reprogrammed and resold, police said.

The New York Post on Monday identified Tren de Aragua as the gang behind New York City’s soaring robberies, adding the gang was taking advantage of the Big Apple’s sanctuary policies to plant members in the U.S. and generate profits for its “sprawling criminal empire.”

“While these gangs wouldn’t normally mix, it’s always going to be a concern as the gang [Tren de Aragua] expands in strength and establishes a foothold,” El Paso FBI Special Agent in Charge John Morales told the Post. “Right now we are working with our local law enforcement partners and sharing intelligence in order to stop the growth of Tren de Aragua.”

The gang began in a Venezuelan prison, according to Paul Mauro, a former NYPD inspector, and has expanded recruitment efforts and its footprint in other countries, including the U.S.

The gang’s presence on American soil is new, he told Fox News Digital, as it has cropped up on the radars of law enforcement in New York, Texas and Miami.

“[I] don’t ever recall dealing with them as an organized entity,” when he was on the job just a few years ago, Mauro said. 


Peruvian police carry out the transfer of several members of the Tren de Aragua criminal organization in Lima Oct. 5, 2023.  (Cris Bouroncle/AFP via Getty Images)


Tren de Aragua began its international expansion with a turf war across the Colombia border in 2018, according to InSight Crime, a nonprofit group that studies criminal organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Facing tough competition in the drug trafficking business, the gang took up human trafficking and smuggling instead.

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As it expanded, it violently seized territory from smaller local groups, according to the nonprofit. It now operates in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil, in addition to its new efforts in the U.S.

In Lima, Peru, the turf war left 24 prostitutes dead, and the group allegedly posted videos of some of the murders online to scare off competition, according to the Post.

MS-13 was well established in parts of the U.S. when Donald Trump became president in 2016 and began targeting members for deportation after a spate of brutal murders involving machetes, knives and other primitive weapons.

El Salvador Gangs

An MS-13 gang member gestures inside one of the three “gang cages” in the Quezaltepeque police station May 20, 2013, in San Salvador, El Salvador.  (Giles Clarke/Getty Images)


In 2022, five years after a group of MS-13 members brutally executed four young men on Long Island, the local ringleader “Diablita,” or “Little Devil,” was convicted of federal racketeering and murder charges.

The victims, non-gang members, were murdered because photos of them emerged online showing them flashing MS-13 hand signals. The gang also killed two teenage girls in the area in September 2016. A month later, carrying bats and machetes, they beat a 34-year-old man to death, believing he was a rival gang member.

The following January, they gunned down a 29-year-old man in a deli because he was wearing a football jersey with the number 18 on it, according to federal prosecutors. 

Michael Ruiz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @mikerreports

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