The rise of organized crime in Venezuela's southern Bolívar region has been directly proportional to the state's neglect of local people and towns. Criminal gang lords impose terror using the same methods of extreme violence favored by the leaders of Venezuelan prisons, the pranes, turning the mining business into part of their criminal network.
State forces have reportedly been responsible for a wave of killings in Venezuela's illegal mining zones, sparking questions over whether they are combating criminal networks, clearing the way for multinationals or looking to control the trade themselves.
In our September 14 Facebook Live session, Co-director Jeremy McDermott and Senior Investigator Deborah Bonello spoke about InSight Crime's special investigation of Venezuela's prison system, the final part of a broader project looking at Latin America's prison dilemma.
In an annual designation of major drug trafficking and producing nations, US President Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent by calling out the anti-narcotics efforts of Colombia, potentially complicating cooperation with one of the United States' closest anti-drug allies in Latin America.