PUNTA DE ARAYA, Venezuela–
So the skinny 17-year-old and the other Marval men ran to grab the guns they'd soldered together from kitchen pipes, smoked an acrid-smelling drug to boost their energy, and went out into the night to patrol the sandy village streets.
"We just have to kill these thugs, and then we can go back to fishing like we always did," Flaco said.
Pirates are terrorising the coastal state of Sucre, once home to the world's fourth-largest tuna fleet and a thriving fishing industry.
That trade has collapsed, along with virtually every industry across Venezuela. Gangs of out-of-work fishermen prey upon those who still venture out into the open sea, stealing their catch and their motors, tying them up, throwing them overboard, and sometimes shooting them. The robberies have taken place daily this year, and dozens of fishermen have died.
"People can't make a living fishing anymore, so they're using their boats for the options that are left: smuggling gas, running drugs, and piracy," said Jose Antonio Garcia, leader of the state's largest union.
The warm Caribbean sea is increasingly becoming a grim free-for-all. Seven members of the Marval clan were preparing to return home one night in September when they heard shots.
"There's no way to run when you're stopped dead in the water, so I just started praying, 'God, let them leave without hurting us,'" 42-year-old Edecio Marval said.
Instead, after stealing the boat's motor and the night's catch, the men shot dead Edecio's oldest child, who had kept the group laughing all night with cheesy jokes, and two others.
As they prepared to kill Edecio's teenage nephew, one pirate shouted for the others to stop. "No, that's my friend," he said. They had fished together until last year.
So the group sped off, leaving the surviving Marvals to send flashes of light into the darkness. They wept as the bodies of their loved ones grew cold beside them.
Back home in the village of Punta de Araya, they told police that they'd recognized the pirates' leader: It was El Beta, a 19-year-old killer with 40 men at his command who lived a half mile down the road.
El Beta began calling Flaco Marval, threatening to come back and wipe out the whole clan.
"Your brother cried like a little bitch when I killed him. Now I'm coming for all of you snitches," he said in a taunting voice message the family turned over to the police.
The Marvals hunkered down. Along with their neighbours, they gave up going to the state-run hospital up the hill because that area was controlled by El Beta. They stopped sending their kids to school. And they started nightly patrols.
"It's not safe to leave the house," said Tibisay Marval, whose son was killed.
On the night they prepared to face down El Beta, Flaco spotted a soldier darting beneath a streetlight with his Kalashnikov rifle drawn. Soon, the streets were filled with villagers hoping the coast guard had caught a group of pirates.