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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

Dirty Business – The Smuggling Pipeline Carrying Mercury Across the Amazon

NEWS / 13 MAY 2021

Smuggling networks are feeding illegal mining operations across the Amazon Basin with mercury, despite global efforts to clamp down on the use of the substance.

Venezuela’s Modeling Agencies Repeatedly Linked to Human Trafficking

NEWS / 5 MAY 2021

As sex trafficking has soared in Venezuela, seemingly legitimate modeling agencies are repeatedly being linked to cases of human trafficking, trapping young women and forcing them into sexual servitude.

Colombia’s Guerrillas Bring Landmines to Venezuela

NEWS / 22 APR 2021

Reports by the Venezuelan government of landmines in Apure state, demonstrate the recent expansion of a warfare tactic used by guerrillas in Colombia into neighboring Venezuela.

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 Coqui’

VENEZUELA PERSONALITIES / 23 APR 2021

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

Álex Saab

VENEZUELA PERSONALITIES / JUNE 14, 2020

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 / MAY 13, 2019

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

COCAINE / 6 APR 2021

Recent drug charges against a little-known but powerful Venezuelan businessman come as a surprise given that he allegedly operated with impunity for decades on the country's northern coast.

COLOMBIA / 5 APR 2021

A sophisticated human trafficking network dismantled in Colombia, illustrates a pattern in how Venezuelan citizens, particularly women, are recruited.

COLECTIVOS / 2 MAR 2021

An increase in the number of reports of illegal invasions of homes and commercial establishments in Venezuela during the pandemic has revealed the ever-widening criminal portfolio managed by militant civilian…

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 dire the country’s oil and gas shortage has become.

ELITES AND CRIME / 25 FEB 2021

As alleged Maduro financier Alex Saab awaits potential extradition to the United States, the Venezuelan government decided that a concert catered by a company linked to Saab’s illicit activities would…

MEGABANDAS / 22 FEB 2021

Recent shootouts between security forces and Venezuela's El Coqui gang included a clash in which at least two dozen people were gunned down, and experts warn of continued violence as…

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