HomeNewsAnalysisMore Venezuela Drug Plane Seizures Signal Trafficking Increase
ANALYSIS

More Venezuela Drug Plane Seizures Signal Trafficking Increase

DRUG POLICY / 12 DEC 2018 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuela authorities are touting their seizure of 28 alleged drug planes as a triumph in the fight against drug trafficking, but the increased seizures may indicate an uptick in narcotics smuggling throughout the country.

The head of Venezuela’s National Anti-Drug Office (Oficina Nacional Antidrogas – ONA), Major General Juan Grillo González, announced that as of November 2, 2018, authorities have seized 28 aircraft tied to drug trafficking.

Grillo González provided no detailed information about the seizures but did manage to issue a warning that “Venezuela will not allow Colombia, the top drug producing country, to use our territory for international trafficking primarily to the United States.”

SEE ALSO: Drug Trafficking Within the Venezuelan Regime: The ‘Cartel of the Suns’

To put things into perspective, Venezuela’s seizure of the 28 aircraft this year represents an astounding 460-percent increase over a mere five taken in 2017. Meanwhile, drug seizures have held steadier, with the ONA reporting 39.4 metric tons seized in 2017 and Interior Minister Néstor Reverol announcing that 37.2 metric tons have been seized as of November 2018.

InSight Crime Analysis

Such a significant increase in drug plane seizures might hint at a government's success in the war on drugs. But given that Colombia produced more cocaine than ever before this past year, this is highly unlikely. Instead, it seems that the amount of drugs passing through Venezuela has simply increased.

Venezuela’s higher official drug seizure figures could also be a logical reflection of increased circulation due to the porous border it shares with Colombia, making it an attractive territory for drug traffickers to use as an exit point for shipping their illicit cargo out of South America.

Mildred Camero, former president of the National Commission Against the Use of Illicit Drugs (Comisión Nacional Contra el Uso Ilícito de las Drogas – Conacuid) in Venezuela, explained that negligence or complicity by the authorities themselves has made the country the safest and most economical drug corridor available to international criminal organizations.

“Approximately 400 metric tons of cocaine circulate around the country per year,” the expert told InSight Crime.

Another factor that could be boosting the amount of drugs in Venezuela is the increasingly widespread presence of Colombian guerrilla groups such as the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) and dissident elements of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).

SEE ALSO: FARC Dissidents and ELN Turn Venezuela Into Criminal Enclave

Undermining Venezuela’s procedures for seizing drug-related aircraft is the risk of the planes being clandestinely released and reused for further trafficking. On November 4, Panama registered the activity of a YV-1863 aircraft with prior links to drug trafficking that had supposedly been neutralized by the Venezuelan Defense Ministry in 2013.

Additionally, in March 2016, a small plane that had been seized in 2011 after being used drug trafficking and was in the custody of the Venezuelan armed forces was caught moving 350 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic.

Rocío San Miguel, president of Venezuelan NGO Control Ciudadano believes that in many cases the aircraft seizures may be false positives because too much information is left unknown, such as where the planes are being kept, who was arrested, who flew them, where they were confiscated and what routes they flew.

For one, official reports are usually incomplete, straining their credibility. Furthermore, is it difficult to think the government of Nicolas Maduro has decided to take the fight to drug traffickers, just as the country is undergoing its worst-ever economic crisis, largely due to corruption, and while many officials face US sanctions due to alleged links to the drug trade.

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

BOLIVIA / 17 JAN 2013

Bolivia won an important symbolic victory after the United Nations (UN) said it would no longer consider traditional uses of…

BOLIVIA / 18 MAY 2015

In a series of contentious but dubious allegations, a former military official from Bolivia has accused the presidents of Bolivia and…

PRISONS / 21 MAR 2016

Adding to the indigenous community's precarious living conditions is the tragic fact that the territory they have settled in, along…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…