The Battle of Sabaneta Prison

Meet "El Mocho Edwin", major pran of Sabaneta Prison

Meet “El Mocho Edwin”, the pran at Sabaneta Prison

For the second time in a month, a serious spasm of violence convulsed Sabaneta Prison in Maracaibo. The toll this time: 16 people dead.

At the center of the violence is a major pran (prison gang boss) who’s known as “El Mocho Edwin”, who took uncontested power of the prison recently. In a garish Syrian twist, one of Edwin’s victims this week had his heart gouged out. Really.

But 31-year old Edwin Soto not only controls Sabaneta, he’s also involved in extorsion and several murders.

The reason behind the violence (which started on Monday) was Edwin’s move to consolidate his power inside Sabaneta as three other prans were named among the victims. According to this press report, he succeded in expanding his control of the prison’s premises.

Meanwhile, relatives of the inmates desperately want to know the situation of their loved ones and they set out to put more pressure on the authorities by shutting down all vehicle traffic on the Puente sobre el Lago for five hours yesterday.

With this new incident, Sabaneta Prison is now the most violent prison in Venezuela with 69 deaths this year by estimations of NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons (OVP). But for those living next door, things like stray bullets have become part of their daily routine.

27 thoughts on “The Battle of Sabaneta Prison

  1. I had to “like” the comment on facebook by some guy reacting to the heart-gouging incident.

    ¡Nuestro pueblo avanza! Estamos recuperando los valores autóctonos hispanoamericanos que fueron pisoteados y humillados por los colonizadores españoles que destruyeron las ricas tradiciones ancestrales con su modelo europeo no apto para nuestra herencia caribe, rebelde y revolucionaria.

    When you’re in the gallows, what other kind of humor can you go for?


  2. Call me naive, but I really don’t understand how this is at all possible. We are not even talking hand-made weapons.

    At least I am not alone in my bafflement, this from one of the people quoted in the last link:

    – Herminely Vargas. Estudiante. Lago Azul. “No deberían permitir que los presos armen los motines cada vez que les dé la gana. No me explico cómo los presos tienen todas esas armas que debería tener solamente la Fuerza Armada”.


      • You say it in jest (or ??) but really the bulk of the guards salaries is probably payrolled by the gangs. Mind you, the “special treatment” of specific prisoners is nothing unique. But the thorough inversion of the prisoner-guard relationship is unfathomable. Why has it been allowed to reach this level? These criminals are so competent, so organized, that their activities have not just been ignored but encouraged as a source of sustenance for those who rely on the existence of the prisons, namely the guards? Another fabulous example of the ultimate failure of chavista central economic planning. It is some sort of Darwinist experiment Ayn Rand would be proud off. Maybe the prans should be teaching accounting or management? Maybe they should be pardoned and given corner offices??


    • apparently according to Varela all the weapons entered the prisons 15 years ago before the chavists took over

      “Nosotros, y el pueblo venezolano lo sabe, hemos venido haciendo esfuerzos para reducir los niveles de violencia en los recintos penitenciarios, una situación que encontró la revolución, y que antes esas cárceles modelo cuarta República, que son esas cárceles minadas de corrupción, de armas, de violencia, de irrespeto por la vida, de comercio con la miseria humana son las cárceles heredadas de la cuarta República, y son los vicios que estamos combatiendo, por supuesto aplicando un plan específico para cada caso, porque en cada cárcel existen particularidades, y nosotros iniciamos un trabajo”, exclamó desde el estado Apure, durante un acto del Plan Cayapa en el Internado Judicial de San Fernando de Apure.


        • I don’t think it will take that long for them to say that the opposition silently airdropped those on the jails using the 19 fighterjets the MUD “bought” for colombia, just to damage the goverment’s image


  3. And I have to admit, if I ran into mocho Edwin on the street, I might think from the look of him that he was an accountant, or a journalist ;)


    • And I bet the guy have more financial sense than the ones in power, as you can see they are building an Empire, so the guy have it. Wonder if he reads CC and Sex Excrement economic notes too.


    • “Ese tipo se quiere adueñar de toda la cárcel y Robert Sutterland -director- lo está apoyando”, denunció el recluso hoy a las 5.50 de la tarde.
      Edwin es el líder de Penal, la más poblada de Sabaneta, y el mes pasado se adueñó del área de Máxima seguridad después de una intensa balacera. A través de una entrevista a medios locales, aseguró que sostuvo conversaciones con la ministra Iris Varela y ambos buscan mantener el orden en la penitenciaría”
      Thus the State is somehow accessory in the killing of these people, I really of how f*cked up we are, when the state is reduced to aiding and taking sided between the gangs that hold the real power.
      Leer más en:


  4. I had plotted the murders in Venezuelan prisons according to OVP until 2011.
    Here you see the chart (for German Wikipedia)

    2012 is not there but that was a record with 591 murders.
    I find a pity people don’t put that in perspective in Venezuela. Valera
    said “this has always happened”. That is obviously not true. There were lots of problems before, massacres were committed, but the level was not like now.
    You just need to see the chart. And prnaes took over the prisons around 2003-2004, when the murder rate in Venezuela reached 34 murders per 100 000 (19 in 1998, about twice 34 now)


      • I am against death penalty but this has nothing to do with that. The worst murderers are not the ones dying there. The worst murderers become bodyguards of Boligarchs.
        Ask Freddy Bernal.

        Out of 100 murder cases, 97 remain unsolved in Venezuela. Probably the other 3 are cases where the murderer comes free after a short while…whereas the ones dying are usually small fish.


  5. Thugs are leading the country (at large), so its logical that thugs control the prisons (at large).

    The prison situation is a reflection of the country in general.


  6. Why does the private media continue to focus on the negative?! This is not newsworthy. They should be reporting on the Venezuela’s glorious space program, or on the Eternal Commandante’s appearance in a cloud over San Cristobal.


  7. I’m also 31yo, and while El Mocho is the evil, murderous, felon overlord of the most dangerous Venezuelan prison I am only a mid-level regional manager in an S&P 500 company… *sigh*


  8. I actually think that’s a photo of “El Kike,” who’s in charge of drug supply. I admit to having spent a horrified hour or so a few weeks ago Googling all those folks.


Comments are closed.