Why should you read an article on Venezuelan Crime and Corruption ? Let's talk for a minute on who runs the USA Government. Some say that there is a Deep State. The term Deep State come from a Turkish phrase derin devlet. Author Mike Lofgren believes that there is .....
"a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process".
In the case of Turkey, the deep state is an association of criminal organizations and the Government. With this preface, I bring you a two part series by Maibort Petit on
Organized Crime and Corruption - the 9 Criminal Blocs that Control Venezuela.
This report analyzes the role of organized crime in the country and accuses the criminal groups that, with the consent of the authorities, operate in Venezuela.
By Maibort Petit
In Venezuela, organized crime organizations operate through 9 blocks whose origins, nature, businesses, scope, structures and objectives are of different kinds and in perfect coexistence with the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), the national, regional and municipal police, as well as other state agencies.
This is revealed by 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.
The report states that some of these blocs control territories and their size is such that they have come to create microstates in the country and also stresses that these criminal expressions materialize a third type of primitivism that is considered the criminal, characterized by violence, atrocity and perversity, which enjoys the damage produced to the detriment of the vast majority of good and honest citizens of the country.
Transparencia Venezuela identified the 9 blocs, in which more than 13,000 criminal organizations participate that, in some cases, maintain links with political power and public officials.
These criminal blocks are:
1) the criminal mega-gangs;
(2) pseudo-unions for construction, oil tankers and miners;
(3) armed and violent "colectivos";
(4) the "pranes" and their prison organizations;
5) the Bolivarian Liberation Forces or "Boliches";
6) the holding of corruption;
(7) drug traffickers;
(8) the FARC and the ELN;
9) criminal gangs (BACRIM).
First block: The criminal mega-gangs
The report refers to the criminal mega-gangs operating in Venezuelan territory that were constituted from the natural tendency of crime to organize, because this allows criminals to obtain greater benefits in their criminal actions.
The organization also makes it easier for crime to prevail over rivals, giving them a greater ability to confront law enforcement.
The report states that the mega-unions are organizations without political ideology, whose only objective is to obtain economic benefits from their misdeeds, constituted with a minimum of 50 or 60 members – although they can be hundreds – associated.
Likewise, the mega-unions control a given territory, which can be urban or rural, while having high-powered firearms and maintaining a very well-defined vertical command structure.
The mega-networks are engaged in drug trafficking, assassination, theft of vehicles (cargo trucks), extortion and kidnapping, among other crimes.
Many of the megabandas operate in Caracas, specifically in neighborhoods such as Cota 905, El Valle, Coche and Petare, among others, although they also operate in other urban areas of different cities of the country and in towns or hamlets.
Citing journalist José Ignacio Mayorca, a specialist in security and crime issues, the report indicates that by 2017 there were 19 mega-gangs in Venezuela, a number that to date has increased.
A characteristic of these mega-cartels is the atrocity of the homicides they commit, similar to the Mexican drug cartels. They do this in order to send messages to other criminals who try to challenge them for power. They can even record these murders and then publish them on social networks in order to multiply the terror they want to sow in the community.
The report notes that, although the growth of mega-unions in the country responds to various causes, there is no doubt that the so-called "peace zones" decreed by the regime of Nicolás Maduro in 2013, were constituted as a determining factor, having been granted recognition and a kind of official legitimation, in addition, of a territory without a police presence.
Megabands have such an ascendancy in the communities they control that they come to serve as species of mediators or "justices of the peace" that they have the final say in the controversies they resolve. These gangs come to control the daily life of the communities.
The social acceptance that many of these mega-unions reach in the territories they dominate is worrying, which is the consequence of some factors that are determining.
Actions such as prohibiting any criminal in the area from committing small crimes against people in the community; the defense of territory against other gangs; sharing the spoils with the community; they can raise the sympathy of the community, especially because of the great absence that the state has in the communities. This is a sign of the social decomposition that has deepened over the past 20 years of the self-styled "revolution."
Their power is so great that the mega-unions go so far as to prohibit police officers from living in the sectors they dominate, without the institutions to which they belong being able to do anything about it.
Many times the "brain" of these megabands is inside the country's prisons, such is the case of the so-called "Aragua Train", considered the largest gang in the country, which, directed from the Aragua Penitentiary Center, popularly known as the Tocorón prison, something that, difficultly, can happen without the complicity of officials.
It is believed that in recent times venezuelan megabandas are extending their tentacles to neighboring countries. The Inability of the Venezuelan regime to contain the action of these large gangs has also become a regional problem.
In Venezuela there are around 18,000 smaller criminal gangs that, from the legal point of view, could also be considered as organized crime organizations, but that by their characteristics differ from the former.
Second block: Pseudo-unions of construction, oil and mining
Unlike the workers' organizations that defend the rights of their members, the pseudo-unions of construction are actually criminal gangs that extort workers in this sector to get them jobs in the works that are being executed. They also threaten those in charge or bosses of the construction works, whom they threaten to only hire the workers they indicate and, sometimes, to buy the materials only from a certain company.
This type of gangs dates back to the time when, through indebtedness – mainly with China – a series of public works began to be executed in different sectors of the country that then, for the most part, were never completed. Then the modus operandi was extended to private constructions.
The disputes between these pseudo-unions of the construction generate several murders year after year, many of them under the modality of hit men or in compliance with the extortion threat against workers or owners of the works.
In the oil sector, criminal groups also emerged that pressure and extort some contracting companies to employ only the workers that the criminal group indicates to them and also the workers who want to enter to work.
For their part, pseudo-mining unions have their field of action mainly in the state of Bolívar, where they control several of the illegal gold mines in that territory and impose terror to maintain their power.
The report argues that illegal mining, although it is long-standing in Venezuela, in recent years has had a great growth, estimating that some 50 thousand people could be dedicated to this activity today.
The Transparency Venezuela report highlights that the expropriations decreed since the first administration of Hugo Chávez, as well as the attacks that the deceased former president promoted against formal mining companies, contributed to the expansion of illegality in the exploitation of gold.
This opened the way to different criminal groups that, with the support of some corrupt officials, took control of the mines of the Bolivar state.
The gangs and mega-gangs that dominate the illegal extraction of gold have made several municipalities of this State of Bolívar the ones with the highest homicide rate in the country, since there is a fight with blood and fire between the different gangs, as well as with foreign groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN).
These gangs, calling themselves "unions," decide who works or not in the mines that their leaders control and ensure "order and security" in exchange for a percentage of the profit.
Between 2016 and 2019 there were 40 massacres in the area, one of the bloodiest being the so-called "Tumeremo massacre", which occurred in March 2016 at the "Atenas" mine by the El Topo gang.
For breaching the rules that the "unions" impose, there are also recurrent cases of severely mutilated people, with loss of their feet, hands, fingers, tongue or other parts of the body.
Along with the criminal action of illegal mining already mentioned, there is the voracious destruction of the ecosystem of the state of Bolívar, through deforestation and the rudimentary and uncontrolled use of mercury that rapidly pollutes the waters of rivers.
The report points out that the Mining Arc decreed by Nicolás Maduro in 2016 "seems to represent the officialization of the illegal exploitation of gold and the destruction of nature in a good part of the national territory."
Third block: Armed and violent "Colectivos"
As has happened in Latin American history in dictatorships or authoritarian governments that create paramilitary or parapolice groups to do the "dirty work", in Venezuela there are the "colectivos" born during the government of Hugo Chávez, which have been consolidated with Nicolás Maduro.
The Maduro regime depends a lot on them in the maintenance of power to those who prefer the military and police, since it is more acceptable before the international community to present any internal conflict as a struggle of people against people, thus avoiding accusations of crimes that violate human rights that compromise it.
The colectivos currently have a presence in all the states of the country and it is believed that they would have around 8,000 men constituted in groups of armed civilians that operate as "guardians of the revolution".
They are engaged in attacking, intimidating and even shooting at people who gather to demonstrate or protest against the regime; they are activated in elections to intimidate and attack opponents, leaders or citizens; they insult and assault opposition deputies, journalists and other press workers around the National Assembly.
They commit their outrages almost always hooded, on motorcycles without visible license plates, equipped with firearms, blunt and sharp objects. They enjoy total impunity with clear support from high-level authorities.
Armed collectives dominate the territories where they operate and form species of microstates, where they can prohibit the entry of police forces.
They have control of the black markets for regulated food, which they usually sell at prices higher than the established one.
But in addition to their functions as guardians of the revolution, collectives sometimes use their weapons to commit common crimes, such as kidnappings, extortion, homicides and robberies, among others.
They also participate within state security forces, as evidenced in 2018 when the dissident policeman, Oscar Pérez, was murdered.
The transparency venezuela report highlights that in the face of the devices of authoritarian systems when creating these groups to take care of the "dirty work", judgments have emerged from the "Inter-American Court of Human Rights" that indicate that the international state responsibility for acts of individuals is also configured when States create civil groups, or become accomplices of these organizations to violate the human rights of citizens, which is precisely what has happened in Venezuela."
to be continued .....
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