HomeNewsBriefOver 100 Firearms Found Following Venezuela Prison Massacre
BRIEF

Over 100 Firearms Found Following Venezuela Prison Massacre

PRISONS / 8 FEB 2013 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Authorities have seized over 100 firearms, as well as ammunition and drugs, from the Venezuelan prison where dozens recently died in a riot, yet another indication of the total lack of state control over the country’s infamously violent prison system.

In a February 7 press conference, Venezuelan Head of Penitentiary Affairs, Iris Varela, stated that 106 firearms, over 8,500 rounds of ammunition and an unspecified amount of cocaine and marijuana were found at Uribana prison in Lara state, following a violent uprising in late January. In the riot that broke out during a prison inspection, at least 58 prisoners and one member of the National Guard were killed, under circumstances that have still not been clarified.

Among the weapons found were pistols, submachine guns, revolvers, grenades, and arms constructed in the jail, news agency EFE reported.

Days after the killings, Human Rights Watch called for investigations into the use of force by National Guard members during the confrontation.

According to the official version of events given by Varela nearly two weeks after the riot, guards were carrying out a routine inspection when prisoners indiscriminately attacked National Guard members and fellow prisoners. However, prisoners’ relatives indicated that the National Guard incited the riot through violent tactics.

Varela has also blamed the press for the incident, saying it incited prisoners to violence prior to the inspection with language that implied there would be a “military takeover” of the prison. 

The minister reconfirmed a death tally of 58, the same number the ministry initially provided, though other sources have placed the number at 61, and have claimed that 19 National Guard members were also killed, according to national newspaper El Universal. Varela did not comment on the condition of the 46 hospitalized prisoners.

InSight Crime Analysis

The discovery of such a large weapons and drug stash in Uribana, as well the high death toll of the riot, underlines the state’s lack of control over the facility. While Varela insisted that progress was being made, the Uribana incident stands out as a particularly grisly example of the state’s inability to improve conditions for inmates and professionalize the prison system.

Venezuela’s Ministry of Penitentiary Services (MPPSP), created in 2011 to reform the prison system, has yet to show a significant impact on violence levels. Between the ministry’s creation and July 2012, over 500 prison deaths and nearly 2,000 injuries were reported, with 25 dying in an August prison riot near Caracas.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights blamed the government for the Uribana tragedy, with the commissioner’s spokesperson stating that, “It is a result of the alarming lack of services in Venezuelan prisons, the overcrowding of inmates, and the fact that many of the inmates endure pre-trial detention for a long time,” reported El Universal.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

MEXICO / 27 OCT 2017

A criminal group in Mexico reportedly kidnapped a prison director and his son to use as a bargaining chip…

ELITES AND CRIME / 21 MAR 2019

What do such distant countries as Venezuela, the Bahamas, Ireland, Morocco, Dubai and Turkey have in common? They were all…

VENEZUELA / 23 OCT 2015

More than 100 Venezuelan policemen have been killed in the metropolitan area of Caracas so far this year, leading to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…