Organized Crime and the State in Venezuela under Chavismo
Venezuela's economic and social crises and poor policymaking have strengthened illegal economies and contributed to a rise in organized crime throughout the country. These range from the drug trafficking network of corrupt military officials and civilian political leaders informally known as the "Cartel of the Suns" (Cartel de los Soles) to the armed, pro-government radical political collectives (colectivos) that control a number of urban slums and the organized super-gangs known as megabandas. Armed paramilitaries and dissident guerrilla groups from Colombia also operate in some of Venezuela's border states. Unfortunately, under President Nicolás Maduro the country has been unable to effectively use state security forces to combat these threats to security and is unwilling to seek help in doing so from international organizations such as the OAS or UN. Instead, the relationship between organized crime and the state is one that is beginning to move from what Lupsha calls the "parasitic" stage to the "symbiotic", in which the criminal organizations work in concert with the state.