Earlier this week there was a shootout between two rival criminal bands in a farm located near Altagracia de Orituco (in central Guárico State), leaving eleven people dead. The two gangs, named El Picure and El Juvenal, were fighting over territorial control.
When I read this news, I got the sense of déjà vu. Surprise, I was right: 11 months earlier, there was a similar event.
Beside the common use of heavy weapons, there was another element in common between the two events. The same party was involved in both incidents: the “El Picure” gang, which controls organized crime in the area.
A “picure” is a local term for the agouti, a type of large rat that lives in the tropics of Central and South America, making it a perfect name for a criminal gang. Last year, “El Picure” fought the police. This year, it was against a rival group that wanted to take over its turf. The shootout began when “El Picure” found out that “El Juvenal” was starting to extort money from local farmers.
The authorities are already on the case, but they have already had to face bullets upon arriving at the crime scene. Guárico State Governor Ramón Rodríguez Chacín – allegedly linked to criminal gangs – has personally assumed control of the investigation.
The bloodshed shows no sign of letting up. It didn’t take long before another shootout between El Picure and the police CICPC SWAT team (BAE) took place, leaving one officer dead.