HomeNewsBriefExplosion of Cocaine Labs in Venezuela Points to Production Migration
BRIEF

Explosion of Cocaine Labs in Venezuela Points to Production Migration

COCA / 19 MAY 2014 BY SETH ROBBINS EN

A record number of drug labs have been dismantled in Venezuela's border region with Colombia, suggesting that Colombian criminal organizations are increasingly using their politically unstable neighbor to process and move cocaine.

According to El Nacional, 43 drug labs discovered in the country in 2013 represented an increase of 79 percent on the 24 discovered the previous year. So far this year, 10 labs have been discovered, with all 53 dismantled since the beginning of 2013 found in the border state of Zulia.

According to retired coronel Jairo Coronel Figuera, formerly in charge of the Venezuela National Guard's antidrug program, Zulia is a prime cocaine processing location because coca leaves can easily be moved from the nearby Colombian regions of Norte de Santander and Cesar, with chemicals for processing coming from Venezuelan cities.

The labs recently dismantled are far more sophisticated than those discovered previously, which were mostly sheds to process and store unrefined cocaine paste. Mildred Camero, ex-president of Venezuela's National Commission Against the Use of Illicit Drugs (Conacuid), told El Nacional the new labs are processing cocaine hydrochloride, or fully refined powder cocaine.

InSight Crime Analysis

The near-doubling of cocaine labs discovered inside Venezuela's borders suggest that drug traffickers may be taking advantage of the country's growing political instability. With protests and unrest in major cities drawing the attention of security forces, the government's ability to effectively monitor outer regions has likely been stretched. 

Colombian guerilla forces and criminal organizations known as BACRIM (from "bandas criminales," or criminal bands) have long maintained a presence in the border regions of Venezuela. But now it seems their activities may be growing in the face of a corrupt and inadequate security presence incapable of addressing the situation -- standing in stark contrast to Colombia's relatively well-equipped and effective security forces.

SEE ALSO: BACRIM in Venezuela Profile

Venezuela is also a key trafficking route for cocaine moved to Central America and Western Africa, so shifting production to its borders brings the product closer to export points. While the operations to dismantle the labs do show that Venezuela is achieving some level of enforcement, the increase in facilities suggests President Nicolas Maduro's border control strategies -- including a multi-agency force made up of civil and state actors -- are not addressing the situation effectively. 

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

SECURITY POLICY / 16 JAN 2018

A prominent opposition figure in Venezuela was killed after a high-powered firefight with security forces, making him perhaps the…

ARGENTINA / 1 OCT 2020

From mostly being a lower-level criminal annoyance, oil theft has spread across Latin America during the coronavirus pandemic as a…

COCA / 26 FEB 2019

When Colombian President Iván Duque announced his new security plan, he told the media that security “shouldn’t be confused with…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…