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

VENEZUELA / 10 FEB 2016

A recent report sheds light on the level of control that some Venezuelan gangs wield over their territory, and is…

CONTRABAND / 17 JUN 2019

Pro-government guerrillas in Venezuela have begun training civilians in armed combat, showing the symbiotic relationship between embattled President Nicolás…

VENEZUELA / 13 JAN 2015

The recent killing of five police officers in Venezuela's capital raises the question of whether nervous police will continue to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

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.