Two of Colombia's most powerful drug trafficking organizations have taken their war across the border into Venezuela, eager to secure crossing points and influence in this crucial transit nation.
Four people were killed, two of them Colombian nationals, in a clash between rival gangs in the Venezuelan municipality of Pedro Maria Ureña, in the border state of Tachira. The area borders a national park, and is a staging post for drug shipments heading into the Venezuelan interior, having crossed from Colombia.
The two Colombians killed were believed to belong to the Urabeños, a powerful Colombian gang that dominates that nation's Caribbean Coast. The other side in the firefight were likely from their rivals the Rastrojos. Both groups are fighting a battle across Colombia for control of movement corridors and departure points for drug shipments.
InSight Crime Analysis
Venezuela is now the principal transit nation for Colombian cocaine, with up to 200 tons passing through on its way to US and European markets. With the rise of powerful Mexican gangs and their control over the US market, Colombians have increasingly turned their attention towards Europe, and Venezuela is the bridge to the Old World.
The Venezuelan border states of Apure, Tachira and Zulia, all have registered presence of Colombian transnational criminal (TCOs), primarily the Urabeños, but also that of rebel groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).