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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. However, Venezuelan groups such as the Tren de Aragua are also becoming real transnational threats.

Latest News

Latin America Makes Little Progress Against Corruption

NEWS / 2 FEB 2023

Countries across Latin America continue to make stubbornly little progress in the fight against corruption.

Carlos Capa Gang

VENEZUELA / JANUARY 27, 2023

The Carlos Capa gang is one of the oldest surviving criminal gangs in Valles del Tuy, south of Caracas in Venezuela.

The R Organization

VENEZUELA / JANUARY 26, 2023

The R Organization is one of Venezuela's fastest growing mining gangs, which are often referred to as sindicatos.

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 / FEBRUARY 8, 2022

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 / 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 / JANUARY 27, 2023

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 OF THE SUNS / JANUARY 15, 2023

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

Walid Makled, otherwise known as “El Turco” or “El Arabe," was once the most powerful civilian drug trafficker in Venezuela.

Investigations

News

VENEZUELA / JANUARY 26, 2021

Tren de Guayana is one of the most powerful mining gangs to currently operate in the southern Venezuela state of Bolívar.

POLICE REFORM / 18 JAN 2023

A long-touted police reform in Venezuela would likely have a limited impact on rampant corruption in the ranks.

BOLIVIA / 29 DEC 2022

The US is losing allies in Latin America just as production of cocaine, fentanyl, and other synthetic drugs is going through the roof.

COCAINE / 21 DEC 2022

Venezuelan authorities claim to have destroyed 40 tons of drugs this year. But are they being fully transparent about their track record?…

COLOMBIA / 19 DEC 2022

Entrenched criminal groups on the Colombia border keep resisting Venezuelan Army efforts to root them out.

PERU / 6 DEC 2022

Peru is taking steps to tackle the threat of Venezuelan mega-gang Tren de Aragua, and have recently captured 30 members of the gang.

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