Venezuelan Gang Arrested in Lima for Extortion, Sparking Protests and Xenophobia

Venezuelan Gang Arrested in Lima for Extortion, Sparking Protests and Xenophobia

The Peruvian capital, Lima, is grappling with the growing influence of a Venezuelan gang known as the Gallegos, leading to violent protests by locals and a rise in xenophobia. The gang’s activities, including widespread extortion, have deeply impacted the city, sparking clashes and police interventions.

On November 7, Lima police arrested four members of the Gallegos, a gang reportedly linked to the transnational Venezuelan crime group Tren de Aragua. This development followed a week after the gang released a threatening video targeting Peruvian motorcycle taxi drivers, in retaliation for perceived xenophobia against Venezuelan migrants. The video featured masked men with rifles, warning of violence against Peruvians in specific districts if Venezuelan workers were not left in peace.

The Gallegos, aside from extortion, are implicated in human trafficking, loan sharking, and drug sales, according to the Peruvian National Police (Policía Nacional del Perú – PNP) and the Attorney General’s Office. Their emergence has been linked to recent protests against extortion, notably in the La Victoria, El Agustino, and Cercado districts, where demonstrators burned vehicles in a violent outcry against the gang’s activities.

In response, authorities deployed 700 officers in a major operation to quell the unrest. Lima has witnessed increasing criminal activities, with Venezuelan and local gangs vying for control over extortion and other illegal markets. High-profile violent incidents, such as a nightclub grenade attack, have prompted the imposition of a state of emergency in several districts.

Lima’s greater region reported over 6,500 extortion cases in the first eight months of 2023, a 60% rise from 2022, correlating with the Gallegos’ expansion since their arrival in 2019. They have displaced local gangs in certain areas and are involved in ongoing conflicts with Peruvian groups.

While earlier protests in September against extortion were peaceful, the recent violent demonstrations indicate escalating tensions. PNP General Luis Flores Solis hinted that local crime groups, aiming to eliminate Venezuelan rivals, might have influenced the protesters. This suggests that the riots and the Gallegos’ video could be part of a proxy war between competing extortion gangs.

The Gallegos’ strategy has been to instill fear through threats and violence, a tactic evident in their recent video.

Author: CrimeDoor

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