Cartel de los Soles News

Could Dissent in Venezuela Military, Judiciary Crack Maduro's Criminal Regime?

Could Dissent in Venezuela Military, Judiciary Crack Maduro's Criminal Regime?

Cracks have appeared in Venezuela's increasingly criminal regime. Dissidence has set in within the military, which is propping up the flailing government, and a key opposition leader is calling for more soldiers to defect, while the attorney general continues to challenge the president. 

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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.

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  • 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.

  • Cartel of the Suns

    Sun insignia worn by Venezuelan generals

    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.

  • Mexican Drug Boss Implicates Venezuelan Generals in Cocaine Ring

    A captured leader of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) has accused Venezuelan generals of complicity in an international cocaine trafficking network that sent drug flights to Mexico, in the latest evidence of criminal ties in Venezuela's military.

  • 'Blame Game' Fails to Explain Why Venezuela is Cocaine Hub

    Venezuelans like to blame Colombia for their problems with organized crime while Colombians say that Venezuela has its own powerful drug trafficking organizations working closely with members of the country's security forces. Both statements seem to be true.

  • Trial of Venezuelan Kingpin Makled Begins Behind Closed Doors

    The trial of Walid Makled, a drug kingpin who claims that he worked with Venezuela's political and military elite, has started in a closed courtroom in Caracas, fuelling concerns he may be silenced by the authorities.

  • Is Venezuelan Military Stepping Up Role in Drug Trafficking?

    Allegations that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez knew of drug trafficking charges against his new defense minister not only suggest institutional corruption in the security forces, but that the president is unwilling, or unable, to take action.

  • Venezuela Politician Makes Narco-Corruption Claims

    A local politician from the state of Anzoategui, northeast Venezuela, has publicly reported a number of soldiers to the authorities for alleged links with drug trafficking.

  • Colombia to Extradite Makled on Weekend

    Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin announced that Walid Makled's extradition to Venezuela would be completed by May 9, El Nacional reports. Makled's extradition was approved by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in April, but was delayed because Caracas needed make certain guarantees to seal the deal, and because U.S. officers were debriefing Makled.

  • InSight: Makled's Window into Trafficking in Venezuela Closing

    In the coming days, President Santos is expected to extradite alleged drug trafficker Walid Makled to Venezuela, instead of the U.S. With him not only goes Colombia’s traditional foreign policy but a vital source of information on the drug trade in Venezuela.

Investigations

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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...

'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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

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...

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...