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

COLOMBIA / 12 DEC 2011

The defeat of the FARC, and the capture or killing of its new commander-in-chief, alias "Timochenko," will be extremely difficult…

COLECTIVOS / 19 JUL 2012

Violence is becoming a focal point for Venezuela's upcoming presidential elections, with the government and opposition competing to promise security…

COLOMBIA / 19 NOV 2010

In an unprecedented gesture of diplomacy, Colombian officials have announced that an alleged Venezuelan drug trafficker arrested earlier…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.