HomeNewsBriefHeavily Armed Youth Gangs Terrorize Caracas: Report
BRIEF

Heavily Armed Youth Gangs Terrorize Caracas: Report

VENEZUELA / 26 AUG 2014 BY CAMILO MEJIA GIRALDO EN

An investigation into violence in neighborhoods in Venezuela's capital Caracas has highlighted how heavily armed and increasingly sophisticated youth gangs are taking advantage of an absent state and terrorizing residents.

According to the El Nacional report, residents of the Cerro Grande sector of the western Caracas municipality Libertador are imprisoned in their own homes as violent turf wars between the area's rival gangs, El 70, Carro Loco and El Lucifer, rage throughout the day.

Even police units in the 19 de Abril neighborhood, the lower part of which is controlled by Carro Loco, reportedly respect the territorial lines marked by graffiti on the bullet-riddled buildings.

The Carro Loco gang consists of around 50 youths armed with grenades, side arms and high caliber weapons, who coordinate activities with portable radios, reported El Nacional. The gangs also count on "gariteros", runners as young as 14, who patrol the area to warn of intrusions by rivals.

The director of the Venezuelan Violence Observatory (OVV), Roberto Briceño Leon, told El Nacional that the gangs have evolved over recent years. Where previously they dealt marijuana and fought predominantly with knives, now they have now moved into the market for harder drugs and are armed with increasingly powerful weaponry.

Over the last 10 years, Briceño added, the authorities have failed to contain street gang expansion.

InSight Crime Analysis

Caracas, by some estimates, is the second most dangerous city in the world, and according to the OVV, the municipality of Libertador is one of its most violent areas, with a homicide rate of 122 per 100,000 people in 2013.

The security situation in the city, and in Venezuela as a whole, has deteriorated significantly over the last decade, with factors such as easy access to weapons and corrupt and ineffective security forces contributing to an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity, in which crimes such as robberies, kidnapping and drug trafficking have thrived.

It is unsurprising that such an environment has also seen the strengthening of street gangs, which often emerge in places with a weak or absent state. The situation described by El Nacional is reminiscent of some of the region's most gang-plagued regions, such as El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia, where ever-younger gangs are fighting with ever-more powerful weapons for control of territory and criminal revenues.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 25 FEB 2021

Venezuelan officials may have finally met a PDVSA corruption scandal they cannot allow to go unpunished, hinting at just how…

JUDICIAL REFORM / 19 JUL 2012

Venezuela's recent approval of a set of sweeping judicial reforms intends to speed up the processing of court cases and…

COLOMBIA / 16 OCT 2018

Reports that criminal groups in Colombia are increasingly recruiting migrants from Venezuela shows how these armed actors are taking advantage of those…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…