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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

Ex-FARC Mafia vs. ELN: a Fight Too Far at Colombia-Venezuela Border?

NEWS / 11 JAN 2022

The 10th Front of the FARC dissidence isn’t letting up. After simultaneously heading off multiple enemies on Venezuelan soil, the group now appears to be taking on their greatest criminal…

GameChangers 2021: Long on Criminality, Short on Democracy in Year to Come

NEWS / 31 DEC 2021

Prediction of the criminal dynamics for 2022 is even harder than most years, as it involves predicting the march of coronavirus. Organized crime does not exist in a bubble.

GameChangers 2021: How IUU Fishing Plundered Latin America's Oceans

NEWS / 23 DEC 2021

A spree of illegal fishing occurred across Latin America this past year, much of it driven by competition for diminishing catch.

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 / NOVEMBER 3, 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 / OCTOBER 18, 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

COLOMBIA / 22 DEC 2021

Welcome to InSight Crime’s Criminal  GameChangers 2021, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over the course of the year.

COLOMBIA / 21 DEC 2021

The Segunda Marquetalia has seen its leadership decimated under bizarre circumstances, in the only place where the powerful Colombian dissident rebel group felt secure: Venezuela. What's behind the deaths of…

COLECTIVOS / 20 DEC 2021

November regional elections brought changes to many powerful offices in regions where criminal organizations wield significant political power, highlighting the significance of localized criminal dynamics and the consolidated grip of…

BRAZIL / 15 DEC 2021

A recent study of credit card cloning around the world revealed some startling disparities in the risks customers face across Latin America and the price of buying this stolen information.

COLOMBIA / 9 DEC 2021

Colombian media has reported that top ex-FARC commanders El Paisa and Romaña have been shot dead in Venezuela, making them the latest former FARC leaders killed in the neighboring country…

COLECTIVOS / 25 NOV 2021

Under the view of international observers, elections in Venezuela this weekend showed low levels of interference by armed groups or organized crime.

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