Update (1316 EST): The Venezuelan government has seized control of the prison.
Update (0955 EST): Venezuelan troops have penetrated the prison complex and clashes have ignited a conflagration at inmate housing.
Cárcel de Tocoron Edo. Aragua, en este momento reportan incendio de las viviendas de la población penitenciaria luego de los fuertes enfrentamientos desde hora de la madrugada dónde la FANB en la Operación "Cacique Guaicaipuro" intenta tomar el control del penal. pic.twitter.com/ABk6NZJNcb
— Jesús Medina Ezaine (@jesusmedinae) September 20, 2023
The Venezuelan government has deployed more than 11,000 police officers and soldiers to take control of the Tocoron prison in Aragua. The objective of this mission is to dismantle the criminal syndicate Tren de Aragua which effectively owns and operates the Tocoron prison. As of this publication, Venezuelan forces have penetrated the settlements surrounding the prison, but have not entered the complex.
— AlbertoRodNews (@AlbertoRodNews) September 20, 2023
Durante el operativo Policial-Militar llamado "Cacique Guacaipuro" por parte del Gobierno nacional desde la madrugada para erradicar la violencia que sale del penal de Tocorón ,hay fuertes explosiones.
Incluso algunos reclusos ahora piden "Auxilio" y llamado a la Fiscalía. pic.twitter.com/i1BshtSiA0
— LuisSucesosLuis (@LuisSucesosLuis) September 20, 2023
#20Sep | Imágenes del despliegue de la operación de liberación Cacique Guaicaipuro en el Centro Penitenciario Tocorón, Aragua.
— El Diario (@eldiario) September 20, 2023
The Venezuelan government statement reads below:
“The Cacique Guaicaipuro Liberation Operation aims to dismantle and put an end to organized crime gangs and criminal networks that operate from Tocoron to the detriment of the tranquility of the Venezuelan people. This operation is part of the citizen security policy of the peace quadrants, which is executed within the framework of the doctrine of civil-military police union.”
According to local media, the prison, which is meant to hold 700 inmates, now holds more than 7,000. According to Insight Crime Héctor Rusthenford Guerrero Flores, alias “Niño Guerrero,” runs the prison and actually charges inmates about 8$/week to live there, effectively earning him more thana million dollars a year. Out of Venezuela’s 52 prisons, 31 of them are at least partially run by these criminal bosses, or pranes. When an suspect is convicted and sent to these prisons, the pranes take control of them with little to no government supervision. Only eight prisons in Venezuela are under complete control of the Penitentiary Service, while eight are completely controlled by these criminal syndicates.