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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

Digital Wild West: Latin America Unprepared for Crypto-Crime

NEWS / 23 NOV 2022

A lack of regulation surrounding how crypto-currencies are used by organized crime has left Latin America dangerously exposed.

Peru, Chile Prisons May Struggle to Contain Tren de Aragua

NEWS / 16 NOV 2022

The capture of Tren de Aragua members will test if Peru and Chile’s prisons can hold this dangerous gang.

Could Venezuelan Military Finally Bring Bolívar's Illegal Gold Miners to Heel?

NEWS / 11 NOV 2022

The Venezuelan government has placed and rogue mining gangs in its crosshairs, as the military is deployed in Bolívar.

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

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

Investigations

News

ECUADOR / 8 NOV 2022

Environmental crime is devastating the Amazon. What are these five Amazonian states doing to protect it?…

BOLIVIA / 8 NOV 2022

The Amazon is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, where wildlife trafficking threatens hundreds of thousands of species.

BRAZIL / 8 NOV 2022

As gold prices have skyrocketed, a boom in mining across the Amazon Basin has flourished, leaving a deep environmental footprint.

BOLIVIA / 8 NOV 2022

Environmental crime is driving deforestation across the Amazon, where some parts are now emitting more carbon dioxide than they absorb.

COLOMBIA / 26 OCT 2022

The ELN plays a continuing role in facilitating large-scale cattle smuggling between Colombia and Venezuela.

COLOMBIA / 21 OCT 2022

The re-opening of the Colombia-Venezuela border was a momentous occasion. But did it come too early?…

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