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Venezuela

Venezuela is a key transit country for drug shipments leaving Colombia for the United States and Europe. Foreign groups, particularly Colombians, have traditionally controlled Venezuela's drug trade, being attracted by poor rule of law and corruption.

Latest News

The Coast of Sucre - Venezuela's Most Dangerous Place for Piracy

NEWS / 15 OCT 2021

Merchants travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, fishing vessels, even the occasional tourist – all are tempting targets for pirates off Venezuela’s northern state of Sucre.  …

The Fallout from Apure and the Enemy Within

INVESTIGATIONS / 13 OCT 2021

The Colombian guerrillas have won a battle against the Venezuelan military in the state of Apure. But they will never win the war. Nevertheless, the fighting made one thing clear:…

The Venezuelan Military: Outfought and Outmatched

INVESTIGACIONES / 13 OCT 2021

On April 23, 2021, two Venezuelan military helicopters landed near the town of La Victoria in the border state of Apure filled with soldiers dispatched to hunt dissident Colombian guerrillas.

Venezuela Profile

Criminal Actors

Armed Groups

As a key transit point for cocaine shipments destined for Europe and the United States, Venezuela has long been a staging ground for Colombian guerrilla groups and other players in the drug trade. The country has also produced its own brand of criminal actors, including megagangs controlled by prison bosses and powerful government-supported paramilitary forces, known as colectivos. Officials at the highest levels of the government and security have links to organized crime, including a shadowy group within the military dubbed the “Cartel of the Suns.”

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Personalities

Carlos Luis Revete, alias 'El Koki'

EL KOKI / JULY 9, 2021

Carlos Luis Revette, alias “El Koki,” is one of Venezuela’s most wanted criminals and leader of the “megabanda" that controls the Cota 905 district to the southwest of Caracas.

Wilexis Alexander Acevedo Monasterios, alias 'Wilexis'

VENEZUELA PERSONALITIES / 11 JAN 2021

Wilexis Alexander Acevedo Monasterios has led the gang which bears his name since at least 2017. With between 150 and 200 people in its ranks, the Wilexis gang controls the…

Álex Saab

VENEZUELA PERSONALITIES / SEPTEMBER 12, 2021

Álex Saab is a Colombian businessman known for making million dollar deals with the Venezuelan government involving prefabricated houses and the state’s food supply program, which has been criticized for…

Samark López Bello

CARTEL DE LOS SOLES / JUNE 14, 2019

Samark López Bello is a Venezuelan businessman and currently a fugitive from American justice facing charges of laundering drug money.

Tareck El Aissami

VENEZUELA PERSONALITIES / JUNE 17, 2019

Tareck El Aissami is the Minister of Industries and National Production of Venezuela. He has held this position since June 2018, the latest in a series of high-ranking positions in…

Walid Makled

VENEZUELA / SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

Once the most powerful civilian drug trafficker in Venezuela, Syrian-born Venezuelan citizen Walid Makled, otherwise known as El Turco or El Arabe, managed cocaine shipments that left the country by…

News

EX-FARC MAFIA / 13 OCT 2021

The fighting that erupted in the Venezuelan state of Apure in early 2021 was on the surface a classic guerrilla conflict.

ELITES AND CRIME / 13 OCT 2021

The photos showed five dead bodies laid out in the dirt, each with a gun or grenade close to an outstretched hand. The official report stated these were guerrillas who…

CONTRABAND / 7 OCT 2021

Specialist gangs are smuggling luxury vehicles from Colombia into Venezuela, shining a spotlight on how the country has become a destination for stolen cars from as far away as Miami.

COLOMBIA / 5 OCT 2021

Colombia’s top military commander says 40 percent of ELN and ex-FARC fighters operate in Venezuela, a figure that must be considered speculative but reflects important shifts in guerrilla dynamics, with…

PRISONS / 24 SEP 2021

Weeks after reports emerged of the suicide of a notorious Venezuelan prison gang boss in Colombia, authorities have confirmed the death of Edwin Ramón Soto Nava – a death that…

KIDNAPPING / 22 SEP 2021

The Venezuelan police have stepped in amid a spate of violent crimes caused by gang members pretending to sell cars online. The offer: people can use police stations to finalize…

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