The story of El Koki, one of Venezuela's most famous criminals, has ended with his death. After constructing a criminal empire in Caracas, which collapsed in 2021, he was shot dead by security forces after months on the run.
On February 8, members of Venezuela’s criminal investigation unit (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas – CICPC) allegedly shot dead Carlos Luis Revette, alias “El Koki” after a three-day manhunt in Tejerías, in the state of Aragua, according to a post on Venezuela's Interior and Justice Ministry's Twitter account.
According to audio messages obtained by InSight Crime, security forces were in a shootout with members of the Conejo gang on February 6 when they spotted El Koki and opened fire on him, wounding him in the arm. The gang leader reportedly dropped a cellphone, on which a picture of him was found with long hair and beard.
After the shootout, which paralyzed a major highway for several hours, El Koki managed to flee into a mountainous forest area outside Tejerías, sparking the hunt that led to his death.
Until July 2021, El Koki was the leader of one of Venezuela’s most dangerous gangs. Located in Caracas’ poor neighborhood of Cota 905, El Koki used his ties to the government to secure Peace Zone status for his home turf in 2017. This meant that no police presence could be allowed inside Cota 905, giving El Koki impunity to develop an extensive criminal empire. His gang controlled microtrafficking in much of the city, and he appeared content to stay where he was. In early 2021, however, El Koki’s gang launched a rapid invasion of La Vega, a significant neighborhood north of Cota 905. This proved to be a step too far from the government, which launched waves of attacks in both neighborhoods, killing dozens and finally forcing El Koki to flee.
InSight Crime Analysis
After years of staying in his Cota 905 refuge, it appears El Koki’s greed was his undoing. Paralyzing large parts of the Venezuelan capital and shooting up police headquarters saw him struck from the list of protected individuals.
Determined to get their man, the Venezuelan government put up a bounty of $500,000 for his capture.
He remained on the run for months, with rumors circling about his presence in Venezuela, Colombia or even Peru. Initial suggestions stated he had stayed in Venezuela, perhaps taking shelter in a familiar bolthole for him, the Valles del Tuy in Miranda state. In December, the government of Nicolás Maduro indicated he was in Colombia and supported by President Iván Duque.
However, it now appears he had not gone so far afield but may have been hiding the entire time with Carlos Enrique Gómez Rodríguez, alias “El Conejo,” a gang boss based in Tejerías, two hours from Caracas.
It appears that, while spotting El Koki on February 6 was luck, Venezuelan security forces were determined to get their man this time. Prior to El Koki’s death being announced, helicopters were seen flying over the area and troops were sent into the mountains.
While the Maduro government will no doubt sell the death of El Koki as a major security victory for Venezuela, it will also serve as a message: Those criminals enjoying Maduro’s patronage can have it fatally ripped away.