Cartel de los Soles News

Report Charts Evolution and Militarization of Venezuela’s Drug Trade

Report Charts Evolution and Militarization of Venezuela’s Drug Trade

A new report details the evolution of Venezuela's drug trade, and offers some insights into the rise of the military's role in this illicit business.

Cartel de los Soles Profile

Cartel of the Suns

Cartel of the Suns

The term "Cartel of the Suns" (Cartel de los Soles) is used to describe shadowy groups inside Venezuela's military that traffic cocaine. It is in some ways a misleading term, as it creates the impression that there is a hierarchical group, made up primarily of military officials, that sets the price of cocaine inside the country. There are cells within the main branches of the military -- the army, navy, air force, and National Guard, from the lowest to the highest levels -- that essentially function as drug trafficking organizations. However, describing them as a "cartel" in the traditional sense would be a leap. It is not clear how the relationship between these cells works, although rivalries between them have apparently turned deadly in the past.

More Cartel de los Soles News

  • Venezuela Sentences Police to 26 Years for Drug Trafficking

    Five police officers have been handed 26 year prison sentences for drug trafficking in Venezuela, in a case that represents a welcome move against corrupt elements in the country's security forces but is unlikely to be part of wider efforts to tackle endemic corruption. 

  • Venezuela Soldiers Arrested For 'Biggest Ever' French Drug Bust

    Venezuela has arrested three National Guard members after more than a ton of cocaine was discovered on an Air France flight traveling from Caracas to Paris, evidence that the military is still involved in major drug trafficking.

  • Ex-Venezuela Army Captain Added to US Kingpin List

    The US Treasury Department has added a former Venezuelan army captain to its list of Specially Designated Drug Traffickers, further proof of the importance of the Venezuelan military to international drug trafficking.

  • Venezuela to Use Military to Fight Crime

    Venezuela will deploy the military to fight crime, a move that will likely increase concerns over the depth of corruption in the armed forces and the possibility that human rights could be compromised in the name of citizen security. 

  • Chavez's Legacy: An Explosion of Violence and Drug Trafficking

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose death from cancer was announced this week, leaves behind a slew of half-started security initiatives, but overall his government proved woefully incapable of tackling violence and organized crime.

  • Political Uncertainty in Venezuela Feeds Crime and Violence

    President Hugo Chavez is suffering from cancer

    The rumors of President Hugo Chavez's imminent death, and the jostling for position among his possible successors, are creating conditions in which crime and violence are flourishing and likely to do so through 2013.

  • Venezuela with more than 21,600 murders in 2012: NGO

    According to calculations made by a respected NGO, Venezuela is now far and away the most dangerous country in South America, with Caracas one of the most dangerous capitals in the world.

  • Venezuela Replaces Defense Minister Accused of Drug Ties

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has replaced General Henry Rangel Silva as head of the Defense Ministry, which could indicate that Chavez is seeking to distance himself from the general, who has been accused of supporting the FARC's drug trafficking activities.

  • With Chavez Win, Venezuelan Gangs Could Expand

    Hugo Chavez's victory in the presidential elections will give Venezuela's organized criminal syndicates another six years to grow and consolidate their power, in South America's most important transit nation for cocaine going to the US and Europe.

  • Cartel of the Suns

    The term "Cartel of the Suns" (Cartel de los Soles) is used to describe shadowy groups inside Venezuela's military that traffic cocaine. It is in some ways a misleading term, as it creates the impression that there is a hierarchical group, made up primarily of military officials, that sets the price of cocaine inside the country. There are cells within the main branches of the military -- the army, navy, air force, and National Guard, from the lowest to the highest levels -- that essentially function as drug trafficking organizations. However, describing them as a "cartel" in the traditional sense would be a leap. It is not clear how the relationship between these cells works, although rivalries between them have apparently turned deadly in the past.

Investigations

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The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.