Muerto en Vida: A Glimpse into the Metro's Buhonero Mafia

My friend’s terrifying run-in with the way the mafia behind the metro's itinerant hawkers protect their turf.

Saúl and his friend Johan hop on the Metro de Caracas at Capitolio station, dirección Palo Verde (Eastward). It’s Thursday afternoon. They make their way toward the middle of the wagon, when a group of lacras (‘scourges’, is Google’s helpful gloss) hops in behind them.

Saúl is adamant as he tells me the story en caliente: “they didn’t look like regular tukis; these were the kind of thugs you just know have at least three killings under their belts”.

At the next station – La Hoyada -, a dingy Metro-buhonero hops in to offer Bolibomba bubble gum in the next car. It’s a common sight in the Metro, worthy of its own viral YouTube tribute.

But something is wrong.

all of a sudden, one of the nastiest lacras of the bunch blurts out an “EL COÑO E SUAMADRE!!” He scuttles towards the wagon and grabs the hawker by the arm, literally spitting the words on his face:

“Que coño e madre haces tu acá mamagüevo? Me estás chocando el carro de nuevo! Quien coño te dijo que podías estar vendiendo en Línea 1 a esta hora maldito becerro?!?”

Shocked by the burst of ultra-violence, Saúl and Johan take a while to come to a terrifying early conclusion: there’s a mafia behind the metro-buhoneros, commanded by some of the nastiest, most baneful malandros of Caracas. And the scene just got worse from there, with every exchange between the mobsters and the poor buhonero scaring the shit out of all the bystanders.

“Fuck, this guy is a real chocón” [cartel-breaker? this one’s hard to gloss.] On and on it goes. “We took you from the sad sack of a human being you were in prison and put you to work, and the only thing you seem to know how to do is fucking us”, or…“What the fuck are you doing chocando el carro en alta, you moron?”

The gangsters have transformed into hyaenas, intimidating and laughing at their prey.

“What are you talking about, mano? I always do right!” blurts out the hostage, trembling with fear.

“Don’t ever call me mano, I’m no mano of yours you fucking chocón. I still remember that one time when you went with us to the candy store and you were cara-e-tabla as fuck, trying to steal a box of chocolates in front of the Chino owner… It seems like the your goal in life is to be a fucking ladilla de mierda. Es más, Give me that fanny pack you wearing RIGHT NOW”.

“But, but..”.


The head of the malandros is bright red with anger at this point. With a vein throbbing in his temple and bloodshot eyes, he snatches a los coñazos the koala off the hawker’s back and starts to rifle though the pockets. Two seconds into it, the thug finds a bag of cocaine, which he promptly takes out to put it in his victim’s face, so casually yet plainly evident for everybody living the scene in the wagon, Saúl and Johan included.

Conque Periquito… con razón tan chocón“, the thug mocks him, referencing the common neuropsychiatric complications prevalent among cocaine abusers. “Te comiste la flecha, mamagüevo. You’re going to Petare with us”.

The thug’s face loses all hint of emotion while handing down the death sentence of the bubble-gum buhonero.

“You fucked us up for the last time”.

Our chocón goes pale as the midnight moon, digesting the grim fate that awaits him. The whole incident feels like an eternit, but they were only arriving at Sabana Grande the moment when the thugs declared the death of the poor Bolibomba salesman.  

Shortly afterwards, the lead thug taps out a number on his phone.

“Que dice menor!! I’m with the chocón, remember him? The motherfucker thinks he can sell his fucking Bolibombas wherever he wants, but what do you think… Yeaah man, he’s friends with that other motherfucker that we saw selling in Plaza Venezuela.. Pocoyó!! Yes, that’s the name of that cunt..hahaha, yes of course I’m gonna get rid of him. Listen, I need you to get to Petare subway…. TRÁETE EL HIERRO AL ANDÉN. This little chocón isn’t going to get a chance to escape under my watch.”

The lead thug – Saúl never heard his name – hangs up the phone. It’s all set now.

The metro arrives to Chacao station. Saúl and Johan are scared, but not as cagaos as the chocón, who looks more dead than alive at this point. They catch a quick glimpse of the muerto en vida, and quickly hop off the train without looking back.

Pobre chocón.

Daniel Urdaneta

Russian-Venezuelan. A Santiaguino who left his heart in Caracas, Daniel is currently rehabbing from his addiction to High Beta and is pursuing a masters' degree in economics at Universidad Católica de Chile. Views are his own.