HomeNewsBriefCriminals Paralyze Venezuela Highway in 'Peace Zones'
BRIEF

Criminals Paralyze Venezuela Highway in 'Peace Zones'

VENEZUELA / 17 JUN 2015 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Criminal groups are reportedly terrorizing a Venezuela highway that runs through so-called "peace zones," in an ironic manifestation of how ungoverned areas -- in this case fostered by government policy -- could be facilitating crime in that country.

Venezuela's police have identified five criminal groups who have established themselves along the "Troncal 9" thoroughfare that crosses the subregion of Barlovento in the northern state of Miranda, reported El Nacional (see El Nacional's graphic below).

These groups reportedly engage in kidnappings and even homicides, but authorities are unable to intervene since many of the crimes occur in government-designated "peace zones." The peace zones are areas in which police are only permitted to enter if they have a warrant; security in these zones depends on private militias.  

The insecurity on the Troncal 9 has reduced the number of public transport vehicles to one-third the amount that operated on the highway in 2013, according to El Nacional. One bus driver told the Venezuelan newspaper criminal groups solicited 10,000 Bolivars ($1,438 using official rates; $25 using the black market rate) per month in extortion payments. 

Foreign businessman and diplomats have also begun avoiding the highway at night, preferring to travel by plane rather than risk being robbed or kidnapped. Police in Barlovento have registered 14 kidnappings so far this year and 73 homicides during March and April.

AmirandA 

InSight Crime Analysis

The take-over of a highway is another demonstration of how criminal groups exploit a weak or absent state in Venezuela. Political and economic crises have likely exacerbated the situation. A recent survey conducted by Venezuela's Observatory on Organized Crime found 36 percent of urban residents consider it either "easy" or "very easy" to order someone killed in their neighborhood.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Unlike some other cases, it appears the lack of a state presence on the highway was due in large part to Venezuela's controversial "peace zones." The impunity with which these criminal groups reportedly operate may validate fears previously voiced by Venezuelan security experts that peace zones could serve to strengthen existing criminal networks rather than thwart them. In 2014, peace zones within Miranda registered a homicide rate of 105 per 100,000, compared to just 67 per 100,000 outside these areas. 

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

GENDER AND CRIME / 5 MAY 2021

As sex trafficking has soared in Venezuela, seemingly legitimate modeling agencies are repeatedly being linked to cases of human trafficking,…

COLECTIVOS / 25 JUN 2021

El Coqui seemed to be comfortable. Caracas’ foremost gang boss had, for several years, dominated the sprawling neighborhood of Cota…

EX-FARC MAFIA / 13 OCT 2021

On April 23, 2021, two Venezuelan military helicopters landed near the town of La Victoria in the border state of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…