HomeNewsBriefReports of Kidnapping in Venezuela Nearly Double in 2016
BRIEF

Reports of Kidnapping in Venezuela Nearly Double in 2016

KIDNAPPING / 30 SEP 2016 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

The number of recorded kidnappings in Venezuela has increased by 88 percent over the last year, according to new figures, which help to quantify a security crisis that has all too often been obscured by the government's reluctance to release damning crime statistics.

There were 411 reported kidnappings in Venezuela between January and the second week of September 2016, compared to 219 over the same period in 2015, according to police figures obtained by Runrunes. (See Runrunes graphic below) Of these victims, 375 were liberated in 2016, compared to 208 in 2015, while 18 were killed, compared to nine in 2015. 

While kidnappings have been rising, the police's ability to resolve them has been falling. According to Runrunes, internal police reports show that 82 percent of reported cases last year ended with the freeing of the hostage without a ransom being paid, but in 2016 this has dropped to 62 percent.

Over 80 percent of the kidnappings were concentrated in just two zones: the state of Miranda, where 216 incidents were reported, and the Capital District of Caracas, where 123 kidnappings were recorded.

VictimasdeSecuestro

InSight Crime Analysis

Evidence that kidnapping is out of control in Venezuela has been emerging for some years. However, the figures obtained by Runrunes demonstrate this with a clarity previously lacking due to the Venezuelan government's reluctance to publish regular and reliable statistics that illustrate the country's security crisis.

As noted by Runrunes, the statistics are likely a huge underestimate, as many victims, perhaps even a majority, prefer to negotiate with the kidnappers rather than report to the police. In addition, it does not account for the plague of "express kidnappings," where victims are held for under 48 hours while their accounts are cleaned out or a quick ransom is paid.

The figures also highlight that while kidnapping may be rampant in Venezuela, it is also highly concentrated. Of particular note is the state of Miranda, which accounts for over half of all cases nationwide.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Miranda is the site of many of the country's designated areas popularly known as "peace zones" -- an unofficial state initiative where security forces essentially withdraw from certain areas. In many cases, the vacuum left by the state is filled by criminals, and many peace zones have become strongholds for gangs and violence hotspots.

A security forces report seen by InSight Crime highlights the importance of these zones for kidnapping gangs in Miranda and Caracas, stating "the 'peace zones' are used by kidnappers as 'captivity zones.'"

Earlier this week, the Venezuelan government announced a new national strategy to combat kidnapping. However, the government's poor track record on implementing new security initiatives suggests the kidnapping epidemic is unlikely to end for the foreseeable future.

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

BOLIVIA / 9 JUL 2013

Transparency International's latest corruption survey highlights the extent of police corruption in Latin America, drawing attention to one of the…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 3 JUL 2013

A group of armed men have kidnapped at least 17 people after bursting into homes in the Mexican state…

HOMICIDES / 24 APR 2013

Murders "unrelated" to drug trafficking went up in the first four months of the current  administration, according to Mexican government…

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.