Gunfight at El Sombrero

01-BANDA-PICURES-3-03082013Last weekend, the small town of El Sombrero (in the heartland’s Guárico State) was the location of a major shootout between the authorities and a large criminal gang known as “El Picure,” named after the alias of its leader, and seen in the recent photo above.

Seven members of the gang were killed during the raid, but El Picure himself escaped, and he remains at large. An officer of the CICPC’s SWAT team (B.A.E.) died in the line of duty, while two other agents of the intelligence service (SEBIN) were wounded as well.

As there’s no footage of the operation itself, and the only details released by the Interior Ministry are pretty basic, it’s difficult to imagine the intensity of the shootout. But at least the Twitter account of Diario 2001′s journalist Jenny Oropeza can give us an idea.

She covered the events in almost real time with the help of her sources on the ground, and the TL feels less like a standard police operation and more like a typical action movie.

“El Picure” wasn’t your regular gang of outlaws. Formed in 2008 thanks to the merger of several criminal bands from neighboring Southern Aragua, it became a well-organized group involved in kidnappings, extorsion, murder-for-hire, and drug trafficking. They weren’t afraid to fight security forces  – they attacked a police station in Barbacoas back in July – thanks in part to their arsenal of military weapons like assault rifles … and even bazookas.

But how can we know about these bands in advance when we don’t even have our version of a most wanted list. The public could benefit from a bit more information on the ongoing gang wars.

17 thoughts on “Gunfight at El Sombrero

  1. Question is: who are the worst criminals, el picure or the CICPC? I would say the later since they are all over the territory, the former only in the middle of nowhere, monte y culebras.

    • That “middle of nowhere” has about 30000 people and that middle of nowhere together with a hundred other middles of nowhere have contributed to the migration to the big aldea that is Caracas for centuries already. It is literally the breeding ground for a lot of poverty migration in Venezuela and that has been so not since the oil times but from before. If we do not tackle that middle of nowhere, we will always keep being a backward country with regular social implosions.

  2. I’m sure they all voted for Chavismo because at the end of the day, the government is really the head of organized crime in Venezuela. The folks at Miraflores just don’t carry guns themselves, they let these poor bastards do the dirty work for them.

  3. It seems rare and unusual to hear of a bona fide conflict between the government and the criminal element. And in Guarico. I would have thought of all places the state had a monopoly on this business there.

    • I am not sure if it’s the “Holy Thugs of Venezuela” documentary, but that may be related. Can’t find it right now, unfortunately. The pertinent bit was at the end of the documentary where kidnappers were interviewed. It may in fact not have been VICE (though I think it was).

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