HomeVenezuelaWilexis Alexander Acevedo Monasterios, alias 'Wilexis'

Wilexis Alexander Acevedo Monasterios, alias 'Wilexis'


Wilexis Acevedo is the leader of the gang that bears his name that, since 2017 has governed the José Félix Ribas neighborhood, the largest in the violent Petare slum in eastern Caracas.

Wilexis has between 150 and 200 people in the ranks of his gang and is wanted by the authorities on charges of extortion, kidnapping, robbery, and micro-trafficking.


Wilexis's criminal career began around 2003. He started with low-level criminal activities, but he quickly grew in influence and formed a small gang dedicated to kidnappings, robberies and hired killings. His gang operated in Petare along with a number of other criminal groups. However, a number of his rivals were gradually eliminated by police operations. While the Wilexis gang was also affected by these operations, it managed to survive and grow in strength. By 2017, it had started positioning itself as the strongest in José Félix Ribas.

InSight Crime interviewed a number of residents of José Félix Ribas, as well as local politicians and journalists, who said the rise of Wilexis was partially enabled by the local mayor, José Vicente Rangel Ávalos, who was elected in 2017.

SEE ALSOThe Hunt for 'Wilexis' – Manufactured Mayhem in Petare, Venezuela

The gang's growing power led to Wilexis usurping state functions, acting as a judge ruling on neighborhood problems, taking a role in local politics and even organizing public events. Residents reported that, in the eyes of many, Wilexis is seen as a "Robin Hood" that brings gifts to children and families in need, delivering government-subsidized food boxes. The group is also responsible for local security, stopping theft and minor crimes against residents, and punishing those who commit these crimes.

In January 2019, residents of the José Félix Ribas neighborhood who protested against the government faced strong reprisals from security forces. When the Wilexis gang faced off against the police, the Maduro regime perceived this as a political action against it and Wilexis was added to the list of Chavismo's public enemies.

Between April and May 2020, Wilexis saw the group's territorial control disputed by a criminal group led by Christian Rene Tovar Uribe, alias "El Gusano." Although it was rumored he had been sent from Tocorón prison, the stronghold of Tren de Aragua, there is no concrete evidence to prove this.

On May 6, amidst the hostilities, President Nicolás Maduro accused Wilexis, without any evidence to support his claims, of having faked the armed confrontations with El Gusano in order to distract from Operation Gideon, and ordered his capture. Following Maduro's speech, the media outlet NTN24 received an audio recording of a man who identified himself as Wilexis, denying the president's accusations and alleging that he did not have contact with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), nor any interest in Maduro's departure from power. Despite his statement, security forces began operations to discover his whereabouts.

Two weeks later, a police commission killed El Gusano in a confrontation, putting an end to the dispute with Wilexis. Although the operations against Wilexis continued, he managed to evade capture.

Wilexis returned to José Félix Ribas in July, where he remained, keeping a low profile, for five months until he was discovered during a FAES operation in November. While he was reportedly injured, he managed to escape once again.

After overcoming the operations seeking to bring him down in 2020, Wilexis kept a low profile for almost a year. However, according to a FAES official interviewed by InSight Crime, Wilexis' gang has come roaring back in Caracas since October 2021. While his center of power was always the neighborhood of José Félix Ribas, he began to dispute territory in surrounding areas, clashing with the small gangs that had prospered in his absence.

Wilexis' power play continued throughout 2022. Although security forces have responded to his expansion attempts with their own operations, so far they have not been successful, and Wilexis remains free. In October 2022, Wilexis' expansion saw his gang members clash with increased frequency with rival gangs, leaving a number of civilians dead.

Criminal Activities

The Wilexis gang is involved in kidnapping and extortion schemes, in addition to controlling micro-trafficking in areas under its control. 

The extortion payments are mostly demanded from formal and informal merchants in the area, who are required to pay a vacuna, as extortion payments are referred to in Venezuela, in return for being allowed to continue working. The amounts being charged have been increasing in line of the country's inflation, rate and can be around $200. Payment is weekly or monthly, depending on the agreement reached between the business owner and the gang.

SEE ALSOCoverage of Venezuelan gangs

The kidnapping victims are frequently located in Caracas or neighboring areas and held hostage in the homes of gang members within the neighborhood. The kidnapping ransom fees can reach up to $20,000, although nowadays kidnappings are not that frequent.


Petare, a parish located in the Sucre municipality of Miranda State and part of the Caracas metropolitan area, is the gang's main territory. It is densely populated and with a complex labyrinth of staircases and alleyways that facilitate criminals' escapes to other areas during police operations.

The gang is present in approximately 20 different areas within Petare, referred to as "zones." The group's greatest area of influence is within the José Félix Ribas neighborhood, particularly between zones 6 and 10. It also has a presence in surrounding neighborhoods, such as Maca, Barrio Unión, La Bombilla, Simón Bolívar, and 24 de Marzo. 

In 2022, the gang dedicated itself to expanding its presence, leading to clashes with rival gangs as it fought to take Zone 3 of José Félix Ribas, as well as the neighborhoods 19 de Abril, 5 de Julio, and 12 de Octubre, which make up the Fechas Patrias sector.

Members of the Wilexis gang have also sought refuge in some of the suburbs of Caracas, like Los Teques and Guatire, where police have found members of the group.

Allies and Enemies

Wilexis' main ally is the mayor of Sucre municipality, José Vicente Rangel Ávalos, according to multiple José Félix Ribas residents, local politicians, and journalists interviewed by InSight Crime on condition of anonymity. In May 2020, in the midst of the hunt for Wilexis, Rangel Ávalos organized a meeting with Wilexis' mediators to agree on a ceasefire.

After the operations, Wilexis returned to José Félix Ribas and the Chavista mayor continued to be his ally, three independent sources told InSight Crime on condition of anonymity. "Wilexis governs the neighborhood as he wants and José Vicente does not intervene. Wilexis receives a good share of the benefits that the government grants and he allows it," said one of the interviewees.


Taking down Wilexis could be extremely difficult, according to a FAES commissioner who spoke to InSight Crime on condition of anonymity. In his opinion, the dimensions of Petare, the largest neighborhood in the country, complicate any police deployment. A constant police presence would also be required, something that Maduro has not ordered, and that would be difficult to maintain in the long term.

Wilexis' eventual arrest or death could result in a power vacuum in Petare that would likely fuel a dispute between small gangs in the area over control of the territory and bring violence back to the neighborhood, a scenario that the Maduro government and the municipal administration of Rangel Ávalos probably want to avoid. However, the security operations that have been carried out against Wilexis continue, and his dominance over Petare is not guaranteed.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content

BRAZIL / 23 NOV 2022

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


The Meleán crime family once ruled over Zulia, Venezuela, but their patriarch's death led to a series of murders that…

COLOMBIA / 10 JUL 2023

Iván Márquez, former guerrilla commander, has reportedly died in Venezuela, with his death likely having far-reaching consequences for Colombia’s “Total…

About InSight Crime


InSight Crime Contributes Expertise Across the Board 

22 SEP 2023

This week InSight Crime investigators Sara García and María Fernanda Ramírez led a discussion of the challenges posed by Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s “Total Peace” plan within urban contexts. The…


InSight Crime Cited in New Colombia Drug Policy Plan

15 SEP 2023

InSight Crime’s work on emerging coca cultivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela was cited in the Colombian government’s…


InSight Crime Discusses Honduran Women's Prison Investigation

8 SEP 2023

Investigators Victoria Dittmar and María Fernanda Ramírez discussed InSight Crime’s recent investigation of a massacre in Honduras’ only women’s prison in a Twitter Spaces event on…


Human Trafficking Investigation Published in Leading Mexican Newspaper

1 SEP 2023

Leading Mexican media outlet El Universal featured our most recent investigation, “The Geography of Human Trafficking on the US-Mexico Border,” on the front page of its August 30…


InSight Crime's Coverage of Ecuador Leads International Debate

25 AUG 2023

This week, Jeremy McDermott, co-director of InSight Crime, was interviewed by La Sexta, a Spanish television channel, about the situation of extreme violence and insecurity in Ecuador…