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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

Religious Statuettes Branded as El Koki for Sale in Caracas

NEWS / 23 JUL 2021

Salesmen in Caracas have come up with an enterprising response to the Venezuelan capital’s descent into criminal warfare: selling devotional statuettes dressed like members of El Koki's gang.

Is Venezuela Getting Serious About Unseating El Koki?

NEWS / 13 JUL 2021

Venezuelan forces have fought running gun battles in the streets of Caracas in recent days with members of the capital’s strongest gang, in an apparent attempt to finally unseat its…

Venezuela's Indigenous Warao Press-Ganged into Guyana's Illegal Gold Mines

NEWS / 13 JUL 2021

Migrants from Venezuela's Warao Indigenous community who have been forced to flee to Guyana find themselves forcibly recruited to work as illegal miners in their new country.

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 / 23 APR 2021

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.

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

CONTRABAND / 30 JUN 2021

In the absence of an adequate COVID-19 vaccination plan, criminal networks in Venezuela have seized upon ongoing mismanagement to steal and resell doses or sell fake vaccines on the black…

CARIBBEAN / 29 JUN 2021

The owner of an armored transport company has been charged for his part in a transnational dirty gold network that moved the metal to the United States via Caribbean islands.

COLECTIVOS / 25 JUN 2021

El Coqui seemed to be comfortable. Caracas’ foremost gang boss had, for several years, dominated the sprawling neighborhood of Cota 905, a densely packed and poor part of western Caracas.

COLOMBIA / 14 JUN 2021

A former FARC leader and veteran drug trafficker has sided with ex-commander Iván Márquez, a move that could prove crucial to the future of dissident FARC criminal groups in Colombia…

COCAINE / 26 MAY 2021

A Turkish mafia boss has claimed cocaine is being trafficked directly from Venezuela to Turkey in a viral video, pointing to the use of a route relying on the support…

COLOMBIA / 18 MAY 2021

The killing of a notorious Colombian dissident guerrilla leader on Venezuelan soil has the potential to destabilize underworld dynamics in both countries, fueling an already raging conflict along their shared…

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