Title: Venezuela’s Notorious Prison Turned Crypto Mine: Inside the Tocorón Raid
In a daring operation last week, Venezuelan police and soldiers stormed Tocorón prison, which was under the control of the powerful Tren de Aragua gang. The raid uncovered a wealth of illegal weapons, explosives, and even a hidden Bitcoin mining operation. The discovery sheds light on the diverse criminal activities of the gang and the dire conditions within the prison.
Unveiling the Criminal Setup
After entering Tocorón prison, security forces were confronted with a prison like no other. Along with improvised living quarters for other inmates, the gang had constructed makeshift shacks where they conducted their operations separately. It provided them with the freedom to carry out various criminal activities, including kidnappings, drug trafficking, and robberies.
Authorities were taken aback by the luxuries enjoyed by the gang members. The prison featured a fully functional restaurant, a pool, a children’s playground, gambling rooms, and even a discothèque named “Tokio.” A baseball field and a zoo, which housed various wild animals like tigers, lions, pumas, and crocodiles, were also discovered within the premises. These amenities primarily served as a means to intimidate both the inmates and government officials.
Bitcoin Mining Operation
Perhaps the most surprising revelation from the raid was the presence of a Bitcoin mining operation in the prison. Rows upon rows of outdated Bitmain Antminers were seized. It remains uncertain how profitable the operation was, considering both the old equipment and the temporary ban on crypto mining in the country. Moreover, frequent energy blackouts in Venezuela pose a significant challenge for such operations.
Evacuation and Arrests
During the raid, authorities evacuated around 1,600 inmates from Tocorón prison. In addition to the countless weapons and explosives found, it was discovered that some prisoners were held “in a kind of slavery.” Four prison guards were arrested on suspicion of facilitating the gang’s extravagant amenities, while 60 Tren de Aragua members were captured.
However, it is disconcerting that between 400 and 500 prisoners, including Tren de Aragua leader Héctor ‘Niño’ Guerrero, managed to escape before the raid. Guerrero, along with other high-ranking officials, fled through a hidden tunnel equipped with multiple exits. Guerrero’s escape highlights the level of corruption within the prison system and the ongoing challenges faced by the Venezuelan government in tackling organized crime.
Restoring Tocorón Prison
With the gang members and prisoners evacuated, authorities now plan to restore Tocorón prison. It is crucial to revamp the facility and address the systemic issues that allowed the Tren de Aragua gang to operate with impunity. The raid serves as a wake-up call for the Venezuelan government to implement stringent measures to prevent prisons from becoming hubs of criminal activity.
The storming of Tocorón prison in Venezuela demonstrated the audacity and extent of criminal operations conducted by the Tren de Aragua gang. From illegal weapons and explosives to the surprising discovery of a Bitcoin mining operation, the raid exposed the deep-rooted corruption and illicit activities within the prison system. As the Venezuelan government strives to rebuild Tocorón, it faces the daunting task of eradicating organized crime from its penitentiaries and restoring order in the country.