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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

Questions Surround Venezuela's Recent Seizure of Rare Drug Sub

NEWS / 6 MAY 2022

Venezuelan authorities have not offered much information about the recent capture of a drug smuggling submarine close to the border with Colombia, leaving it unclear if the use of semi-submersibles…

InSight Crime Event: Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

NEWS / 5 MAY 2022

InSight Crime has presented its latest report, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution, the result of three years of investigation by the Venezuelan Investigative Unit.

Beyond the Cartel of the Suns

INVESTIGATIONS / 2 MAY 2022

In 2020, the US Department of Justice released a bombshell indictment charging sitting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other senior members of his government with “narco-terrorism” and accusing them of…

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 Revette, 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 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 OF THE SUNS / 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

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

In 2016, two adopted nephews of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro were found guilty of a conspiracy to bring 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

On April 3, 2021, police in the east Venezuelan state of Anzoátegui acted on a tip-off to intercept a silver Toyota Corolla. They interrogated the driver, a middle-aged woman accompanied…

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

In 2013, Nicolás Maduro became president of one of the world’s most important cocaine hubs, inheriting a unique drug trafficking eco-system where the line between the underworld and the state…

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

In October 2021, the Venezuelan Ministry of the Interior issued an ordinary looking statement about an antinarcotics operation in the state of Zulia that had extraordinary implications: the military had…

VENEZUELA / 2 MAY 2022

The arrests of three people in Venezuela for Facebook Marketplace posts in which they allegedly offered kidneys for sale have raised questions about the illegal organ trade in a country…

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 APR 2022

Elements of the Venezuelan underworld, whether drug cartels, street gangs or illegal mining groups, have hit upon a unique way of establishing social control:…

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