On July 8th and continuing into July 9th, Venezuela’s capital Caracas is in chaos after authorities closed down roads due to intense firefights between security forces and the Cota 905 organized crime gang.
Authorities have not released any numbers of casualties and it is unknown how many people have been killed or injured.
The group is attempting to expand the territory it controls in the capital.
— CNW (@ConflictsW) July 8, 2021
Heavily armed criminal groups have moved in the past month to residential and commercial areas from slums in the city’s hills, and violence has exploded over the past 24 hours with gun battles breaking out in at least five populous neighborhoods.
“State security agencies continue to be deployed in the areas affected by these criminals,” Interior Minister Carmen Melendez wrote on Twitter.
She said some highways in the areas were closed as part of the operation, and urged members of the public to stay at home.
Since January, gangs from the Cota 905 barrio have been trying to expand their territory into nearby areas including La Vega.
“We haven’t been running the kitchens at full capacity since January because of the shootouts nearly every day,” said Amelia Flores, 58, who runs two soup kitchens, primarily for children, in the area. “I don’t what happened, but in the past 24 hours the situation has exploded and the kids are traumatized.”
The gangs want to control one of the main corridors linking the capital with the west of the country, said a human rights activist based in one of the affected neighborhoods.
Analysts say gangs in Cota 905 have been able to operate with ease as it has been a no-go zone for security forces due to a pact with the government to lower violence. Experts say the gangs took the opportunity to acquire military-grade firepower such as grenade launchers, assault weapons, and drones.
— Favi (@Meslunnettes) July 8, 2021
The gangs even seized a VN-4 armored vehicle from the security forces.
— CNW (@ConflictsW) July 8, 2021
To curb the violence and attempt to put the situation under control the Venezuelan government cut power to the areas under Cota 905 control.
Government security forces cut power to the Cota 905, where most of the gang members dwell, and are hitting hard with a FAES style operation—similar to the OLPs (a series of armed raids in certain poor neighborhoods with a pattern of extrajudicial killings).
— Caracas Chronicles (@CaracasChron) July 9, 2021
Social media is filled with various footage of violence.
Una mujer herida de bala en la Av Baralt, frente mercado Quinta Crespo. Antisociales de la Cota 905 continúan disparando hacia la zona pic.twitter.com/cy8RMDnCpC
— Roman Camacho (@RCamachoVzla) July 8, 2021
“A woman shot and wounded on Av Baralt, in front of the Quinta Crespo market. Antisocials from Cota 905 continue firing towards the area”
No es en Afganistán es en Caracas Venezuela. Así es la zozobra que generan delincuentes en los alrededores de la Cota 905, El Cementerio, El Valle, El Paraíso, Quinta Crespo, Avenida Victoria, El Helicoide… pic.twitter.com/qe9qcPtVz5
— Daniel G. Colina (@danielgcolina) July 7, 2021
“It is not in Afghanistan, it is in Caracas Venezuela. This is the anxiety generated by criminals in the surroundings of Cota 905, El Cementerio, El Valle, El Paraíso, Quinta Crespo, Avenida Victoria, El Helicoide”
Antisociales de la Cota 905 cuando tomaron el Boulevard del Cementerio. Corrieron a los buhoneros y amenazaron a las personas. Fusiles de alto calibre, en motos y en camionetas pic.twitter.com/ksYdhU4WoB
— Roman Camacho (@RCamachoVzla) July 7, 2021
Más imágenes de cuando antisociales quemaron un camión en la autopista adyacente a la entrada de el túnel de El Cementerio. pic.twitter.com/svJ6lzHwL7
— Dayana Krays (@Dayanakrays) July 8, 2021
The gangs also have police radios and are issuing warnings against security forces, saying they will blow up their vehicles and kill them.
#8Jul #Caracas #Cota905
"Te vamos a volar la tanqueta": Delincuentes de la Cota 905 se comunican a través de radios, mientras se enfrentan a los cuerpos policiales – @NTN24ve pic.twitter.com/YMtnQq5wIK
— Reporte Ya (@ReporteYa) July 8, 2021
FUNCIONARIOS DE FAES EN LA INMEDIACIÓNES DE LA COTA #VALLEDEBALAS @COTA905 @marupita @traffiCARACAS @FMCENTER @RCamachoVzla @ImpactoVE @ReporteYa @delmirodebarrio @CronicaPolicial @jesusmedinae pic.twitter.com/A5Q06Q39A0
— RIVERFANDY (@fandyriver) July 8, 2021
The authorities also published some photographs with the names of some leaders of these gangs with rewards ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 dollars.
Among them is Carlos Luis Revete, alias “el Koki”; Garbis Ochoa Ruiz, alias “el Galvis”, and Carlos Calderón Martínez, alias “el Vampi”, all of them accused of murder.
The situation is still developing and there is no clear end in sight.
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