Lionel Guillen made a living selling food and hygiene products in the black market. In March during an argument over toothpaste, he was fatally shot in Baruta, Globovision reported.
Those familiar with the food sector in Venezuela say every major city has a black market and an intricate network of illegal food merchants known as the "bachaqueros." Guillen was one of them.
The deep economic crisis in Venezuela continues to create opportunities for the food vendors who are thriving despite the government's many efforts to destroy the market. It remains a lucrative but dangerous profession.
Amid triple-digit inflation, the government views the "bachaqueros" as the criminals who are to blame for the food shortages. President Nicolas Maduro's opposition doesn't blame them. They hold the socialist government's inept policies -- including currency control and price freezes -- responsible for their existence.
Some of the "bachaqueros" wake up early to line up in front of supermarkets, where they have access to the government's fixed prices. They resell the items to other "bachaqueros" who deal with greater volumes.
The great majority of shoppers at supermarkets are "bachaqueros," according to a consumer survey by Dataanalisis.
When the government installed a database to identify shoppers and monitor their purchases, some of the "bachaqueros" changed their strategy. They made deals with employees of warehouses or supermarkets to get to the rice and sugar before it even got on the shelves.
They deal in U.S. dollars, Euros and Colombian pesos.
The "bachaqueros" increasingly rely on informants and corrupt police officers and soldiers. They handle their deals with cash and coordinate the delivery of rice, flour, eggs, oil and other goods through messaging apps such as Whatsapp.