EFECaracas

Panic-stricken, Ramiro desperately runs down a street of a low-income neighborhood in Caracas to escape a sudden shooting that broke out in the area.

The scene is a common one in the La Vega neighborhood, which has turned into a micro-state dominated by organized crime gangs.

In recent weeks, the slum has become the center of attention in the Venezuelan capital with constant explosions and police operations in attempts to stop criminal gangs.

Criminals operate from the top of a mountain that connects several communities and where they have built sentry boxes with sandbags as a defense shield that is visible to anyone who enters the area. From there, they fire high caliber weaponry, rifles and grenades.