HomeCountriesVenezuela organized crime news

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

From Empires to World Wars - A History of the Global Cocaine Trade

NEWS / 1 SEP 2022

InSight Crime charts the history of cocaine from agricultural extract to the basis of global criminal empires.

The Bosses Who Run Venezuela's Most Lawless Prisons

NEWS / 26 AUG 2022

Venezuela's prisons have failed to stop the country's most dangerous criminals, these can run criminal empires from behind bars.

How Tren de Aragua Controls the Destiny of Migrants from Venezuela to Chile

NEWS / 25 JUL 2022

Venezuelan gang, Tren de Aragua, has gradually become one of South America's main criminal threats, with Chile its latest target.

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.”

icon
icon

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

COCAINE / 7 JUL 2022

Ahmet Yilmaz* shouldn’t be in a dangerous profession. He’s not a cop or a criminal. Ahmet is a banana importer in Turkey. “This is my third decade in the industry,”…

COLOMBIA / 5 JUL 2022

Up to seven commanders belonging to the dissident FARC have been killed in Colombia and Venezuela in the last year. Why?…

COLOMBIA / 4 JUL 2022

While the death of Iván Márquez is yet to be confirmed, his passing would mark a major turning point in Colombia’s security panorama.

COLOMBIA / 1 JUL 2022

Colombian police uncovered a sex ring featuring underage migrants from Venezuela. Why does sex trafficking flourish in border areas?…

COCAINE / 29 JUN 2022

Turkish and foreign law enforcement have seized record quantities of cocaine heading from South America to Turkey, revealing the growing role of the country’s powerful traffickers in the transit of…

EL KOKI / 31 MAY 2022

Four months after Venezuelan security forces killed gang boss and public enemy No. 1, El Koki, police in his former Caracas stronghold have suffered two separate grenade attacks – in…

SEE ALL
icon #SupportFreePress
image

Support Our Work

Investigating organized crime is an expensive and often risky enterprise. Reaching primary sources and getting the real story involve extensive fieldwork. Please donate. Every dollar supports our mission.

DONATE NOW image