The leader of the Aragua Train criminal gang, Jose Manuel Vera, alias Satan, has been transferred from prison in Colombia to prevent him from continuing to lead the criminal gang operating in the country. Until now, the 30-year-old Venezuelan was being held in the Palogordo prison, located in Giron, Santander department.
The prisoner’s new destination will be the Tramacua Penitentiary Center in Valledupar, Cesar, a higher security prison where the prison authorities hope to put an end to the criminal activity of the offender. Despite being incarcerated, he has continued to direct acts of violence in Bogota for the mega-gang founded in Venezuela, but which operates in countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Panama and Costa Rica, as well as Colombia and Venezuela.
The power of criminal gangs
The power of criminal gangs is so great that, despite their leaders being incarcerated, they continue to run criminal operations from inside prison. Ecuador experienced this a few days ago, with the wave of violence generated inside and outside prisons after the escape of alias Fito, the most dangerous Ecuadorian drug trafficker who ran his criminal gang from a prison in Guayaquil.
In Colombia, the situation is also serious, because although there are not the riots and kidnappings of officials that Ecuador suffers, criminals linked to drug trafficking activities continue to lead their criminal gangs, even while in prison. In this sense, Jose Manuel Vera, alias Satan, leader of the dangerous Aragua Train gang, has continued to order the extortion of merchants in Bogota, even though he is imprisoned in Colombia, after being extradited from Ecuador.
The Aragua Train is a criminal group that is at odds with various criminal organizations in Colombia, such as the paramilitary Gulf Clan and the National Liberation Army guerrillas, with whom it disputes control of cocaine export routes. This illegal activity confers enormous economic benefits to these illegal groups, which use it as a tool to consolidate dangerous power, even when some of their leaders are imprisoned.
Satan alias record
In Colombia, alias Satan has several judicial processes pending for multiple crimes, especially extortion, perpetrated on Colombian soil. His modus operandi included intimidation with phone calls, pamphlets, messages and even threatening his victims with explosives.
His criminal trajectory is extensive and he is known for attacking the population in several localities of Bogota. Among the evidence collected by the authorities, it was determined that he demanded significant sums of money, between 50 and 300 million Colombian pesos, from merchants in the capital. Such actions were carried out through WhatsApp audios, intimidating merchants with pamphlets where he showed firearms, and using international telephone lines.
“He intimidated his victims with threatening pamphlets, followed by shooting at businesses and throwing grenades, and is preliminarily linked to at least 8 homicides committed in the capital,” explained the National Police when he was extradited to Colombia in November 2023.
Satan’s threats continue
“I may be in jail, but here all the boys are on the street and we are active. If you want bloodshed, we are going to please you,” said alias Satan in a threatening audio clip that was reproduced by Caracol Televisión’s Colombian news program. In the recording, which is more than a minute and a half long, the criminal can be heard boasting that he is not afraid of the police and continually threatening shopkeepers who report him for extortion.
In the recording, Satan’s defiant and intimidating attitude is a constant. “Here the boys do what you tell them to do and the indications are that there is bloodshed every day, so I hope you don’t keep getting innocents killed. If you don’t catch up with Moises and Pedro, who are the ones in charge of the area, the boys have direct orders to start killing people every day,” the criminal threatens from prison.
“Here the ones who are going to pay the consequences are you,” the leader of the Tren de Aragua said in a threatening tone, addressing those who denounce his illegal activities.
A few weeks ago members of the criminal gang also threatened authorities with more crimes in Bogota if their leader did not receive benefits in the penitentiary where he was serving his sentence. To date, Aragua Train have not made it known whether they will retaliate for the decision to transfer their leader to the maximum security prison in Valledupar.