NYPD warns of growing Venezuelan gang presence in NYC

The NYPD is trying to tackle a rise in violent crime among Venezuelan gang members who have recently arrived in New York City.

Authorities say suspected members of the gang Tren de Aragua have been making their way across the southern border and into the United States for the last two years.

NYPD Assistant Chief of Detectives Jason Savino spoke with FOX 5 NY's Linda Schmidt, showing a recruitment video made by gang members.

The video shows the gang members flashing guns and gang signs in what is believed to be Ecuador, but then flashes forward to show the same gang members in Times Square. 

NYPD officials say that members of the gang have been crossing the border along with the larger influx of migrants, and are becoming established in New York City. 

"What we do see is they are trying to grow," said Savino.

Police say that members of the gang have gone from crimes like shoplifting and stealing cell phones and jewelry to all-out shoot-outs in the streets.

Bernardo Raul Castro-Mata, the Venezuelan migrant accused of shooting two NYPD officers during a traffic stop, reportedly confessed to police that gang members instructed to shoot police officers. 


Man accused of shooting NYPD officers charged, claims guns are being smuggled into NYC migrant shelters

Bernardo Raul Castro-Mata, the Venezuelan migrant accused of shooting 2 NYPD officers is facing attempted murder charges, and claims that the gang Tren de Aragua is smuggling guns into NYC shelters.

In court, Queens Assistant District Attorney Lauren Reilly said that Mata had told investigators that members of Tren de Aragua were smuggling firearms into city shelters inside food packages that do not have to go through metal detectors. 

According to Savino, the gangs are also expanding into drug trafficking.

"We're just starting to see a drug called Tussi which is a pink cocaine-type substance. We just started seeing that," Savino said. "It's as big of a challenge as we've faced."

FOX 5 NY reached out to City Hall about security and metal detectors at the city-run migrant shelters and asked why food containers are not being screened for possible weapons or drugs. 

Officials said that those items are supposed to be screened, and the city is now retraining security personnel at all city-run migrant shelters.