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Deep State (2)

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Organized Crime and Corruption: 9 Criminal Blocs Control Venezuela (II), as we continue to list criminal organizations operating in Venezuela according to a report by Transparencia Venezuela


By Maibort Petit


In the first installment of this series we referred to the fact that organized crime organizations operate in Venezuela through 9 blocks and in perfect coexistence with the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB),

the national, regional and municipal police,

as well as other state agencies.

This according to the report "Organized Crime and Corruption in Venezuela: A State Problem" prepared by Transparencia Venezuela and in which an account is made about criminal organizations, types of crime, regional situation in several states, the role of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), in addition to presenting a series of initiatives to combat the problem and solve it.

If you didn't read Part One click here.


Fourth block of crime
Fourth block: The "pranes" and their prison organizations

Since the state did not deal with Venezuelan prisons, they gave rise to a powerful criminal figure known as "pran," who stands as the leader of the criminal gang that controls the territory of the prisons.

They obtain power through murder and the imposition of terror among the prison population, going so far as to create species of microstates within the prisons where they impose their bloody law.

It is believed that the term "pran" corresponds to the combination of acronyms of the phrase: "prisoner finished born murderer", but there is no certainty of this.

The Transparency Venezuela report points out the thesis of the general coordinator of the organization Una Ventana a la Libertad, Carlos Nieto Palma, who believes that the "pranes" are"driven by some corrupt officials around the prison system, because it is better for them to understand with one or two inmates who handle illicit activities inside the prison, than with the entire prison population."

Around the "pran" acts an organizational structure similar to that used by the criminal mega-gangs.


The report states that before Hugo Chávez came to power, prisoners only had, on some occasions, homemade knives or, in the most serious cases, single-shot firearms built precariously inside the dungeons, known as "poplars".

Previously, state control prevented prisoners from acquiring weaponry, but, today, the firepower of prison gangs is unprecedented in Venezuela's prison history.

The "pranes", whose power is measured according to the weapons they handle, usually have an arsenal consisting of rifles, machine guns, pistols and even grenades, evidently entered the prison with the complicity of corrupt members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), custodians of the prisons, as well as officials of the Penitentiary Ministry, in charge of internal surveillance.

The business of the pranes in prisons consists of the so-called collection of the "cause" (vaccine or kind of tax) and also in the sale of drugs, alcohol and even food, the management of gambling and prostitution within the prison.

They also carry out crimes on the street that are planned inside the prisons, such as hit men, kidnappings, collection of "ransom" for stolen or stolen vehicles and also extortion and scams through the use of cell phones and the internet. Another source of funding for the pranes is the administration of overcrowding, as prisoners must pay for the best prison spaces and, in some cases, for building or renting housing within the prison grounds.

The pranes handle so much money and power that they enjoy great privileges inside the prison, such as swimming pools, drugs, discos, concerts, sex workers, bull coleus sleeves, zoos and even banks.

The report states that many prisons in Venezuela serve as "masterminds" of criminal activity that takes place outside the walls.



Fifth block: Bolivarian liberation forces "boliches"


The Transparency Venezuela report states that the fifth organized crime bloc operating in the country is the one constituted by the so-called Bolivarian Liberation Forces (FBL), also known as "Boliches".

It is a paramilitary group, mostly rural, which operates mainly in Apure, but also has a presence in Táchira and Barinas, near the border with Colombia.

It is a national guerrilla group that, according to Insight Crime[1], its origins date back to 1992, when they carried out several attacks in Caracas.

Since Hugo Chávez came to power, the FBL has resurfaced in its actions and is believed to currently have between 1,000 and 4,000 members.

This guerrilla group is financed mainly by extortion of cattle ranchers and companies on the border with Colombia. It also uses river crossings to smuggle cattle and gasoline into Colombia. It extorts migrants seeking to cross into Colombia.

Also citing Insight Crime, the Transparency Venezuela report states that

"The FBL's control of criminal economies comes from its ties to The security forces and public officials of Apure" and adds that it "has considerable political influence in the state, through the control of various communal councils and mayors."



Sixth block: Holding of corruption


The report then mentions the holding company of corruption in Venezuela, which is made up of members of the public service, private entrepreneurs, international banks, consultants and law firms, national and international, who have benefited from criminal activity.

And, as the report argues, "Venezuela has been bled by the rampant corruption that has existed in the last 20 years" as its resources, especially those derived from oil exports, have been plundered.

It stresses that although corruption and money laundering are not violent crimes, they are often linked to them by facilitating the action of the other organized crime blocs.

It is noted that although there are more than 20 types of crime in the Anti-Corruption Law, the institutions of the justice system, in almost all cases, do not investigate, accuse, or convict those guilty of attacking public property and committing other acts of corruption.

It maintains that the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic does not comply with its obligation to supervise and administratively sanction those who incur in irregularities within the public administration.

Remember the report published in 2018 by Transparency International that placed Venezuela among the countries that present the most corruption on the planet, placing it in the 176th place of a total of 180 nations analyzed, being the first in Latin America.

In the first quarter of 2020, Transparencia Venezuela counted 78 corruption investigations with Venezuelan funds. In addition, prosecutors' offices, courts and parliaments in more than 20 countries have opened a total of 50 investigations as of August 2019.


In mid-2019, usd 29,900,609,098.39 was the damage caused to the nation by the phenomenon of corruption.


The report refers to a study conducted by Transparencia Venezuela in 2018 on state-owned companies, establishing that of 526 companies analyzed, more than 70 percent have complaints of corruption. The worst performers are PDVSA, Corpoelec and the basic companies of Guayana.



[1] Insight Crime. "FBL¬-FPLN" https://es.insightcrime.org/venezuela-crimen-organizado/fbl-fpln/





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