Hector Guerrero Flores, the notorious head of a Venezuelan gang, managed to escape the lavish Tocorón prison moments before it was assaulted by 11,000 military and police.
Police forces from all over South America are searching for him.
Guerrero Flores, a 39-year-old from Aragua state, has a long history with Tocorón prison, where he has been in and out for over a decade.
In 2012, he previously escaped from the facility by bribing the guards. Despite being re-arrested in 2013 and returning to Tocorón, his influence over the prison and those responsible for guarding him appeared to grow exponentially.
Under his rule, Tocorón transformed into what can only be described as a luxury resort. The prison featured amenities such as a small zoo, a nightclub, and even a swimming pool.
Inmates had access to a makeshift bank, a betting shop, a restaurant, and a baseball diamond.
Families of inmates moved into the compound, and children could marvel at flamingos and ostriches in an on-site animal enclosure.
Venezuela Escape Artist: Inside Guerrero Flores’s Remarkable Prison Freedom
Guerrero Flores reportedly enjoyed considerable freedom within and outside the prison. He was once found at a party on a yacht in 2016 by the police, calmly showing them a safe conduct issued by Venezuela’s prison service that permitted him to travel freely throughout the country.
According to Humberto Prado, director of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory NGO, Guerrero Flores lived like royalty inside the prison and likely returned there due to the security it provided.
Inside Tocorón, he faced no rivals, enabling him to safely oversee the expansion of his criminal network, the Tren de Aragua.
Under his leadership, this transnational crime gang expanded its operations into Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile.
They diversified their criminal activities, moving from extorting migrants to engaging in sex trafficking, contract killings, and kidnappings.
The audacious escape of Hector Guerrero Flores from the luxurious Tocorón prison has sent shockwaves throughout the region, prompting a manhunt that spans South America.
Authorities are determined to bring the elusive gang leader to justice and put an end to his far-reaching criminal empire.