A recent series of shootouts with police near one of Venezuela's most infamous prisons is a reminder of the control wielded by criminal groups from within penitentiaries and beyond, and the government's lack of control over them.
At least 13 people have died in a prison mutiny in north Mexico that some witnesses claim was a backlash against an attempted takeover of the prison by the Zetas, highlighting the criminal control and corruption that are pervasive in the penal system.
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 May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.