By Daisy Galaviz.
In 2017, when the leader of the gang that ruled the Jose Felix Ribas section of Petare was murdered, a confrontation began between the other leaders to take the throne.
Four years later, Wilexis Alexander Acevedo Monasterios is the boss of a criminal organization that knows everything that happens, who enters, and what is moved between zone 6 and zone 10 of Petare the largest neighborhood of Venezuela, located in Miranda state.
“Wilexis is putting between 10 and 15 people, all women, on the streets that he thinks can block access to the neighborhood. His gang has a census of the population, of the truck drivers, they even have control of the transporters who carry the domestic gas. Using this power, with just a WhatsApp voice message, he can call for protest and threaten women to kill their husbands and children if they don’t do it. Then, he sends some of his guys to take a look of who complied and who did not”, said a member of the Special Police Force (FAES by its acronym in Spanish) after the protests in Jose Felix Ribas, at the end of 2019, to be named a peace zone.
Created by Maduro in 2015, these peace zones are a euphemism to call zones where criminal gangs and the government negotiates directly: the police can’t enter in, and the criminals rule in the zone.
“The crime protects us”
In 2019, the community of Jose Felix Ribas went out three times to protest against the FAES. In all three protests, the slogan was: “The crime protects us, and the FAES steals from us”.
The protests in Jose Felix Ribas suspended the activity in the neighborhood. Both in June and October, all the schools in the area closed its doors, there was no public transport, the shops did not open either. Several mothers, wives, and daughters, relatives of victims of executions and intimidation by the FAES police group, gave their testimonies.
You must read Venezuela is the most murderous country in Latin America: Insight Crime
“The children and teenagers don’t want to play sports because when they see the FAES, they are afraid. You can’t identify them -FAES- because they always walk around with their faces covered. We want to be a peace zone,” denounced Elizabeth Aguirre, a member of the zone 6 community in October 2019.
A source who did not want to be identified admitted to El Pitazo that the demonstration was organized by Wilexis Alexander, who ordered bus drivers to stop working and told them he would pay for the working day, if they didn’t follow the order, they couldn’t work in José Felix Ribas anymore. According to the neighbor’s testimony, the pran, which means the boss in criminal slang, sent his men to the verify.
Another neighbor said how the inhabitants of the popular zone have been victims of police abuse: “It is no a secret that the FAES makes disasters wherever they go, that they steal and kill without asking, but the protests in Jose Felix are organized by him (Wilexis Monasterios). The ones I have witnessed have been attended by victims”.
According to residents, the incursion of the FAES in the neighborhood of Jose Felix Ribas began when the pran recognized Juan Guaido after he was proclaimed interim president of Venezuela on January 23, 2019.
That support to the opposition leader became Wilexis, a man wanted for robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and murder in a new target of the elite group from the National Police.
What he wants, he gives. What he wants, he gets
Since he became boss from Jose Felix Ribas, Wilexis is seen by some people as the Robin Hood of his neighborhood just as Medellín people saw the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar: the one who takes from the rich to gives to the poor and provides them with security.
A resident of the popular sector, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in the area you can have a party all night and be safe, that the one who steals from a neighbor gets killed.
“In Jose Felix, you can take out your iPhone X and nobody looks at it, the same thing happens with cars and motorcycles. My neighborhood is safer than Fuerte Tiuna -the largest Army base in Venezuela- and whoever dares to alter that system, dawns with several shots on his body and face,” said another resident of the community, who also asked to protect his name.
Wilexis controls everything in the neighborhood: the distribution of the CLAP, the bags or boxes of food, the sale of drugs, the guarding of the vehicles that his gang steals in the city. He is kind of the president of the neighborhood council and a mayor because from zone 6 to zone 10 you cannot hold any event without having his blessing. “If someone dares to plan something without his consent, nobody goes. The neighborhood is clear about this,” said a resident.
People in those zones say that the Wilexis Alexander gang is made up of 150 to 200 men, most of them are under 30 years old, and the youngest ones still in school or entering high school.
These guys, according to information by residents, are given the position of watchmen and are armed with shotguns, pistols, and portable radio to communicate immediately everything that happens.
“When a citizen who is not from the area enters the neighborhood, the gang immediately activates a protocol: they ask for his identification, and demand that he answer where he is going or what he is going to do. The idea is to let them know, from the first moment, who is in charge,” said another neighbor.
Wilexis also extorts grocery owners and other businessmen in the area. Everybody must pay him a permission and protection fee. He blacklists women who catch his attention, the one who says yes, stays alive with all the privileges, the one who says no, must to flee from the zone or gets a bullet in her forehead.
One resident tells a story: “Months ago, Wilexis liked a girl, she was less than 20 years old, but she had a boyfriend who lived in another neighborhood. When the boy tried to visit her in her house, Wliexis sent several members of her gang and they shot him”.
This is the power Wilexis has. Till the date, no one has been able to take away from him. Or perhaps, no one wants to do it.