A dangerous mega-gang in Venezuela has massacred members of another alleged criminal group in retaliation for the murder of two soldiers. The application of this form of “justice” would spell an end to the “pax mafiosa” between certain criminal groups, controlling neighborhoods of Caracas, and the government of Nicolás Maduro.
On the night of February 12, the mega-gang (referring to a criminal group with over 100 men) of Carlos Luis Revette, alias “Coqui,” murdered seven members of the less powerful gang of Elvis Eduardo Castro Troya, alias “El Culón.” These two groups are fighting for control of Cota 905, a populous neighborhood with high levels of violence, southwest of Caracas.
The massacre occurred after members of the Castro Troya gang murdered two soldiers from the Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana – GNB) and the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (
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It is believed that Coqui — one of the most notorious criminals in Venezuela — acted to defend alleged peace agreements passed with members of the government, which allowed his mega-gang to operate in Cota 905, on the condition of not interfering with public officials.
This territory had been declared a “Peace Zone” in 2015, as part of a security policy where government authorities reached agreements with criminals to reduce violence in exchange for territorial control. Although the pact was broken that same year due to the application of the Operation Liberation and Protection of the People (Operación de Liberación y Protección del Pueblo — OLP), an anti-crime policy that saw criminals exterminated in poor neighborhoods, it was re-activated in late 2017 for Cota 905.
InSight Crime Analysis
The massacre carried out in the Cota 905 neighborhood by a gang which has supposedly been targeted by the government since 2015 but conveniently never dismantled, fits in the “pax mafiosa” that has ruled in certain parts of Venezuela.
In these areas, the state has completely delegated its power to criminal groups, such as the mega-gangs which impose their own rules in the territory they control.
This meant that, after the two soldiers were killed, the state did not need to intervene or to prosecute those responsible in court. The Coqui mega-gang was simply sent in to replace the state to apply its own brand of “criminal justice.”
Non-aggression pacts between security forces and the gangs have been promoted by the highest levels of the Venezuelan state. In 2013, the then deputy minister of public safety, José Vicente Rangel Ávalos, initiated these “negotiations” between the government of Venezuela and the mega-gangs.
In August 2017, current vice-president and then president of the National Constituent Assembly, Delcy Rodríguez, visited Cota 905 with other officials and said “we are being careful for any kind of overreaching that could be carried out by state security bodies in Cota 905.” InSight Crime sources revealed that during Rodríguez’s visit, a meeting took place between officials and Coqui.
This laissez-faire by the Venezuelan government has directly led to the strengthening of the mega-gangs and the extension of their control over Cota 905 and other neighborhoods south of Caracas, turning these areas into so-called “corridors of death.”
These gangs feel like they can act with impunity, as exemplified by a video of Coqui and his friends openly dancing at a party in their neighborhood.