HomeNewsAnalysisKidnappings in Venezuela's Táchira Tell Different Tale than Government Data
ANALYSIS

Kidnappings in Venezuela's Táchira Tell Different Tale than Government Data

INFOGRAPHICS / 13 SEP 2019 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuela's northern border state of Táchira saw a jump in kidnappings during the first six months of 2019 -- a likely consequence of armed groups roaming the Venezuela-Colombia border. 

From January to June, five kidnappings were reported in Táchira, according to news reports examined by InSight Crime. Táchira registered a total of five kidnappings in all of 2018, according to information from the Venezuelan Observatory on Citizens' Security (Observatorio Venezolano de Seguridad Ciudadana- OVS). For the first six months of 2019, the OVS -- the official tally -- recorded only two kidnappings.

The kidnappings were made public when security agencies reported that victims were rescued. During the first week of April, a police special forces unit rescued Alejandro Tineo, who was kidnapped in the Recreo sector of San Antonio, Táchira. 

Click to enlarge image.

Then, at the end of April, two owners of a dairy company were kidnapped while leaving their business in Coloncito, in the Panamericano municipality. They were rescued by Táchira state police officials and the Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana - GNB). 

On June 7, a triple kidnapping took place when businessman Germán Plata, his assistant Norma Loaiza and their driver José Guillermo Santafé Romero were abducted while driving between Ureña and San Cristóbal. The two men were rescued twenty days later during an operation by Táchira’s Anti-Extortion and Kidnapping Unit (Grupo Antiextorsión y Secuestros - GAES). Norma Loaiza wasn't freed until the end of July. 

On June 15, the Venezuelan newspaper Diario de Los Andes reported on the death of Audelio Antonio Sánchez, a 62-year-old farmer from the Jáuregui municipality in the northeast of Táchira state. Sánchez had been kidnapped and reportedly died in a violent clash with his captors. His body was found in the El Carira sector in the Panamericano municipality. 

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profile

At the end of that month, the Diario de Los Andes reported on the kidnapping of a one-month-old girl. Three young men tried to sell the baby girl in the state of Cúcuta in Colombia when they were arrested, according to a report by judicial police. 

Historically, kidnapping has been one of the most common crimes in the state of Táchira, whose border location makes its residents extremely vulnerable to the actions of armed actors in Colombia. Nevertheless, a decline in kidnappings had been reported over the past few years. 

InSight Crime Analysis

While those responsible for the kidnappings in Táchira have not been identified, the variety of criminal organizations now operating in the state and along the Venezuela-Colombia border could explain the increase. 

Germán Plata, one of the businessmen kidnapped, revealed in an interview with the newspaper La Nación that his captors identified themselves as guerrilla fighters. However, about a dozen criminal groups are concentrated along the border, which is crossed by thousands of Venezuelan migrants every day. The groups present on the border include the drug trafficking gang Los Rastrojos, a border security "colectivo," the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación - EPL) guerrilla force, and the mega-gang El Tren de Aragua.

On the other hand, the uptick in Táchira contrasts with nationwide reports that kidnappings are down. In a recent statement, Interior Minister Néstor Reverol declared a 41 percent reduction in kidnapping instances across Venezuela. Although he did not offer official figures to back his assertion, the alleged decline in total numbers may be a result of fewer reports and allegations. 

The situation in Táchira is different. So far in 2019, the state has recorded an overall increase in crime. The state went from 14th place among the states with the highest crime rates in Venezuela in 2018, to tenth place in 2019, according to OVS data to which InSight Crime had access. Figures from the state government institution also show a 6 percent increase in homicides. 

The increase in crime in Táchira coincides with the proliferation of armed groups that are attracted to the border state by the criminal businesses arising along with the forced migration of Venezuelans.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 9 FEB 2021

The volume of cocaine needed to feed the booming European market requires the type of bulk transport capabilities offered by…

ELN / 6 APR 2022

It was 2019 when the Colombian guerrillas first arrived to the Cataniapo river basin, known as Ähuiyäru De’iyu Ręję to…

COLOMBIA / 22 DEC 2021

Welcome to InSight Crime’s Criminal  GameChangers 2021, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over the course…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…