The capture of Venezuelan crime boss, alias “Yiyi,” in Argentina, is the latest on the growing list of Venezuelan kingpins who fled abroad and continued to operate their criminal organizations only to be captured by foreign security forces. 

Douglas Rico, director of the Venezuela’s Scientific, Criminal and Criminalistic Investigations Corps (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas – CICPC), confirmed the capture of Guillermo Rafael Boscán Bracho, alias “Yiyi”, through Instagram on October 3. He was arrested in Corrientes, Argentina, by the Argentine Federal Police. 

“Yiyi worked from abroad, ordering multiple hired killings, extortion, kidnappings, car theft, drug trafficking, and other crimes,” Rico said. 

The gang boss led one of the main criminal outfits in La Cañada de Urdaneta, located on the western shore of Lake Maracaibo in Zulia state. The town is home to several shrimp companies, which Yiyi and his men extorted. However, authorities had been unaware of his whereabouts since 2021.

SEE ALSO: Grenades Becoming Trademark of Venezuelan Extortion Gangs in Peru

Yiyi began his criminal life as a hitman in La Cañada de Urdaneta, where he was part of a criminal group headed by Jhon Gregorio Wade Leon, alias “Jhon Wade,” one Zulia’s best-known criminal figures. Following Jhon Wade’s death in 2018, the group fractured, with Yiyi assuming leadership of one of the splinter gangs.

In February 2023, gunmen under Yiyi’s command shot up a butcher shop in Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia, killing one person and injuring three others. The act put him back on the authorities’ radar, including that of the attorney general, Tarek William Saab.

His notorious reputation and rising criminal career in western Venezuela earned him a spot among the country’s top 10 most wanted criminals, published in September by the (Ministerio del Poder Popular para las Relaciones Interiores, Justicia y Paz – MPPPRIJP).

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Like Yiyi, other Venezuelan criminals have sought refuge on foreign soil where they continue to coordinate criminal activities, taking advantage of the lack of cooperation between law enforcement authorities in the region.

One of Yiyi’s main rivals, Mauricio Luzardo, alias “Mauricio,” is currently holed up in Colombia, according to a former Venezuelan security official who maintains close ties to the intelligence services and who spoke to InSight Crime on condition of anonymity.

Other criminals such as Erick Alberto Parra Mendoza, alias “Yeico Masacre,” and Adrian Rodriguez, alias “Adriancito,” have been reported to be hiding out in Colombia, Peru, and even the United States, according to La Cañada de Urdaneta officials and security officials who spoke to InSight Crime. 

SEE ALSO: The Shattered Mafia Behind Criminal Chaos in Zulia, Venezuela

“There are many criminals here who are persecuted by the [Venezuelan] justice system and take refuge in border areas [outside of the country] and operate from there,” said Manuel Rosales, governor of Zulia state, in an interview with InSight Crime in January 2023. 

However, Yiyi’s capture occurred during a moment of change in Venezuela, as the administration led by President Nicolás Maduro seems to re-establish its relations in the region and clean its image amid numerous links to organized crime groups. The recent signing of a cooperation agreement to combat organized crime with Chile, and the hunt for the fugitive leader of Tren de Aragua, Hector Rusthenford Guerrero Flores, alias “Niño Guerrero,” are examples of this new approach.

But the new turn is unlikely to mean the end of Venezuelan criminals on foreign soil. Cooperation with Venezuelan judicial and police authorities remains poor, according to security force officials in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile, who spoke to InSight Crime.

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