Venezuelan security forces conducted a high-stakes operation at Tocorón prison, a facility long under the control of the notorious Tren de Aragua gang. This operation marked the first major action against Venezuela’s most feared criminal organization, known for extending its criminal reach beyond national borders. Alongside a significant cache of weapons, including grenades, rocket launchers, and firearms, authorities uncovered a surprising discovery – Bitcoin (BTC) mining machines hidden within the prison walls.
Tocorón Prison Raid
The Tren de Aragua gang had transformed Tocorón prison into a luxurious haven of criminal enterprise, involved in a range of illegal activities such as human trafficking, kidnappings, extortion, and prostitution. Within the confines of the facility, inmates enjoyed amenities like a baseball field, swimming pool, zoo, nightclub, and even a casino. Yet, concealed amid this opulence, lay Bitcoin mining machines, surreptitiously engaged in illicit cryptocurrency mining.
Venezuela’s Minister of Interior and Justice, Remigo Ceballos, confirmed the arrest of four prison guards during the operation, fuelling suspicions of their complicity in assisting the gang members. Although some inmates managed to escape during the operation, the government acted swiftly to relocate the prison’s 1,600 detainees to alternative facilities. Ceballos characterized the operation as a clear success, underlining the unwavering commitment of the authorities to confront all forms of criminal activity and their collaborators.
Bitcoin Miners in Prison
This incident follows Venezuela’s earlier suspension of Bitcoin mining operations in March, initiated in response to investigations into an alleged corruption scheme. This scheme purportedly involved the misallocation of funds from Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), a state-run oil company, facilitated through cryptocurrency wallets. These investigations prompted regulatory action temporarily halting cryptocurrency mining across the nation.
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The raid on Tocorón prison serves as a stark reminder of the multifaceted challenges confronting the Venezuelan government in its ongoing battle against organized crime. While authorities have taken commendable steps to address criminal activities, the discovery of Bitcoin mining equipment within the confines of a notorious prison underscores the adaptability and innovative tactics of criminal networks.