Immigrants Charged With Attack on NYPD Officers Are ‘Tren de Aragua’ Gang Members: ICE

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
February 17, 2024New York
Immigrants Charged With Attack on NYPD Officers Are ‘Tren de Aragua’ Gang Members: ICE
A group of illegal immigrants attack two New York Police Department officers outside a migrant shelter in New York on Jan. 27, 2024, in a still from video. (New York Police Department)

At least two of the illegal immigrants charged in connection to the beating of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers last month are members of the Venezuelan gang known as Tren de Aragua, according to officials.

Marie Ferguson, a spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told Fox News on Feb. 15 that Kelvin Servita-Arocha, 19, and Wilson Omar Juarez-Aguilarte, 21, have both been “identified as members of the Tren de Aragua transnational criminal organization.”

The agency said both individuals are being held without bail in ICE custody after they were arrested in connection with a pair of immigration warrants.

“Both unlawfully present Venezuelan citizens have been charged in conjunction with the violent gang assault carried out on two NYPD officers and are currently detained without bond in ERO New York City custody,” Ms. Ferguson said.

She told the New York Post that Mr. Servita-Arocha was arrested on an ICE immigration warrant and will have his custody status reevaluated.

Mr. Juarez-Aguilarte, meanwhile, was taken into custody on a deportation order from a judge in El Paso, Texas, one year ago. It is unclear why ICE had not picked him up on that order.

They were allegedly part of a large group of individuals—all believed to be illegal immigrants—caught on camera brutally kicking and punching two NYPD officers outside an immigration shelter near Times Square on Jan. 27.

Initially, police arrested five men in connection with the attack. Later, two more were taken into custody but the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office decided not to charge any of them, pending further investigation.

Only one of the suspects was ordered held on bail.

The move drew criticism from some New York officials, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said those who assault a police officer should be “sitting in jail.”

“I’m not satisfied with that at all,” she said in response to a reporter’s question about the release of the illegal immigrants. “These are law enforcement officers who should never, under any circumstances, be subjected to physical assault. It’s wrong on all accounts, and I’m looking to judges and prosecutors to do the right thing.”

In a statement on Feb. 8, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced that seven men have been indicted for their roles in the police beating. So far, eight people—all of them illegal immigrants—have been arrested in connection with the incident.

The office has identified five of them: Darwin Andres Gomez-izquiel, Mr. Juarez-Aguilarte, Mr. Servita-Arocha, Yorman Reveron, and Yohenry Brito.

Additionally, the two individuals are believed to be among a group of illegal immigrants suspected of attempting to flee the state on a passenger bus after they were initially released without bail.

“The subjects were believed to be fleeing the state of New York from their suspected involvement in a coordinated assault on multiple New York City Police Department (NYPD) Officers,” Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe, ICE acting deputy press secretary, told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

What Is Tren de Aragua?

Tren de Aragua, known in English as the Aragua Train, is considered the largest criminal organization in Venezuela with over 2,700 members. The organization engages in a variety of criminal activities but primarily focuses on drug trafficking, sex trafficking, ransom kidnappings, and money laundering.

According to reports, members of the notorious gang have recently been spotted by immigration officials not only in the Big Apple but also in other U.S. cities, including Chicago.

They were all living in the United States illegally and were released by detention centers under the Biden administration despite previous convictions for violent crimes, according to ICE records.

The FBI’s El Paso field office told KABB that border agents apprehended 38 suspected Tren de Aragua members crossing the border illegally in fiscal year 2023.

According to senior FBI agent John Morales, the gang could join forces with the notorious MS-13 gang and expand its crime network in New York and other U.S. cities.

“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,” Mr. 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,” he added.

Meanwhile, the FBI is asking Venezuelan migrants to report gang members, offering them anonymity through the FBI’s 1-800-CALL-FBI tipline.

“Their first victims are their fellow Venezuelans,” Mr. Morales said, adding that the gang uses the surge of illegal immigrants at shelters across New York City to recruit new members.

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