Venezuela: A Mafia State?

VENEZUELA / 25 MAY 2018

This investigation, the product of three years of field research, looks at the exponential growth of organized crime in Venezuela and the consequences of this for the region.

Chapter 1

7 Reasons for Describing Venezuela as a 'Mafia State'

COLECTIVOS / 16 MAY 2018

There is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a "mafia state." Here are seven arguments as to why we think Venezuela qualifies and what the implications are of this…

Chapter 2

Drug Trafficking Within the Venezuelan Regime: The 'Cartel of the Suns'

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 17 MAY 2018

In Latin America, criminal entrepreneurs in the form of cartels, have traditionally run drug trafficking. In Venezuela, it is managed from within government, and if Nicolás Maduro wins another term in office, Venezuela’s position in the global cocaine…

Chapter 3

The Devolution of State Power: The ‘Colectivos’

COLECTIVOS / 18 MAY 2018

They are known by supporters as “knights of steel” on their motorcycles, and as the most ardent defenders of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution. Yet now they look more like criminal gangs…

Chapter 4

The Devolution of State Power: 'The Pranes'

INFOGRAPHICS / 20 MAY 2018

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it…

Chapter 5

Colombia and Venezuela: Criminal Siamese Twins   

CRIMINAL MIGRATION / 21 MAY 2018

Colombia and Venezuela have shared criminal dynamics for decades. Colombia has pushed cocaine through Venezuela on its journey to US and European markets, while Venezuela’s contraband fuel has gushed in the other direction. But today the criminal links…

Chapter 6

Honduras and Venezuela: Coup and Cocaine Air Bridge  

CACHIROS / 23 MAY 2018

On the morning of Sunday, June 28, 2009, Honduran soldiers burst into the presidential palace in the country’s capital, Tegucigalpa, rustled President Manuel Zelaya from his bed, and took away his cellular phone.

Chapter 7

Dominican Republic and Venezuela: Cocaine Across the Caribbean

COCAINE / 24 MAY 2018

Drug traffickers have a problem exporting drugs from Venezuela. There are few commercial flights, little container shipping, no tourists and a collapsed fishing sector. But the Dominican Republic, 1,400 kilometers away, has it…

Chapter 8

Venezuela and El Salvador: Exporting Aid and Corruption

EL SALVADOR / 25 MAY 2018

José Luis Merino is one of the most powerful figures in El Salvador’s governing political party and played a key role in the founding of ALBA Petróleos, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s…

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