HomeNewsBriefRecent Venezuela Drug Seizures Point More to Challenges than Results
BRIEF

Recent Venezuela Drug Seizures Point More to Challenges than Results

COLOMBIA / 15 MAR 2017 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuelan authorities recently announced cocaine seizures of almost three metric tons, illustrating the persistent flow of drugs on the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

On March 8, authorities seized 1,749 kilograms of cocaine in the Venezuelan border state of Zulia and another 877 kilograms in different operations in the states of Monagas, Mérida and Anzoátegui. 

InSight Crime has previously noted that Zulia is a strategic entry point for drugs coming from Colombia. The so-called "Hot Route" ("Ruta Caliente") leaves from the town of Paraguachón in the Colombian department of La Guajira, using the Limón River to reach the southern end of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. 

The states of Monagas, Mérida and Anzoátegui in Venezuela are also located on the route from Norte de Santander and Arauca in Colombia to Europe, Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

In addition to social, political and economic crises unfolding in Venezuela; the abuse of state resources; and the involvement of the armed forces in illegal activities like drug trafficking; the recent seizures suggest the country is also struggling with problems related to Colombia's increasing cultivation of coca.

According to new US government figures, Colombia could be producing up to 1,316 metric tons of cocaine a year, part of which leaves the country through the porous 2,219-kilometer border it shares with Venezuela. 

Following the beginning of the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC), cocaine trafficking routes to Venezuela that until recently were mainly controlled by the rebels' Eastern and Magdalena Medio blocks are now up for grabs. This has caused an unexpected territorial struggle for the control of illegal economies in these areas. 

SEE ALSO: Special Investigation: The FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

In the case of Norte de Santander -- which borders the Venezuelan states of Táchira and Zulia -- power gaps left by the FARC's 33rd Front, which was concentrated in Tibú, have increased tensions between the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN), the People's Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación - EPL) and crime groups known as BACRIM. This has been evidenced by recent reports that the appearance of alleged paramilitary groups in the area has displaced the region's inhabitants to Venezuela. 

Another factor that should not be discounted is the possible increase of illicit crops in Venezuela. The most recent figures from the Venezuelan National Anti-Drug Office (Oficina Nacional Antidrogas - ONA) referred to Zulia as the state with the largest number of seizures nationwide (58 tons). In addition, the ONA reported about 25 hectares of coca crops in an area near the Colombian border. 

This coincides with a recent field investigation conducted by InSight Crime, which found coca crops controlled by the ELN in Sierra de Perija in Zulia state. The investigation also found that the guerrilla group would be employing local indigenous people in laboratories to process cocaine.

In short, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' optimism that the peace agreement with the FARC, possibly the most important player in the global cocaine trade, could mark a turning point in the fight against drug trafficking seems to be contradicted by reality. Conditions in Colombia and Venezuela could continue to foster cocaine trafficking and boost consumption throughout the region.

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

COCAINE / 20 APR 2022

Repeated seizures along the United Kingdom’s southern coast have shown how the area is gaining relevance as a secondary route…

COLOMBIA / 1 NOV 2021

Long-time leader, Otoniel, President Iván Duque said the gang's "days were numbered." But is that accurate?…

EL KOKI / 3 MAR 2022

Security forces in Venezuela have killed a string of infamous gang bosses, indicating that the gangs are no longer operating…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…