HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Govt. Controls Spur Cattle Smuggling Into Colombia
BRIEF

Venezuela Govt. Controls Spur Cattle Smuggling Into Colombia

COLOMBIA / 31 OCT 2018 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

A growth in cattle smuggling from Venezuela to Colombia with participation from criminal organizations could be the result of heavy-handed controls that the government of President Nicolás Maduro has been imposing on Venezuela’s farmers.

The head of Colombia’s tax and customs police, General Juan Carlos Buitrago, said that controlling contraband cattle has become an increasingly complicated endeavor. Smugglers constantly open new routes, with authorities decommissioning more than 100 cross-border trails between Venezuela and Colombia this year alone.

Buitrago added that they have been investigating “allegations that the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) guerrilla group is allowing cattle to cross the Venezuelan border -- for a price,” reported El Espectador.

The police say the ELN charges up to 200,000 Colombian pesos (approximately $66) per head of cattle smuggled into Colombia.

“More than 500 head of cattle have been acquired in [Venezuela] for 200,000 [Colombian] pesos, then sold for 1 million Colombian pesos,” Buitrago said.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela the president of the National Federation of Cattle Ranchers (Federación Nacional de Ganaderos – FEDENAGA), Armando Chacín, accused the government of requiring landowners to sell it 30 percent of their production at regulated prices, creating fierce conflict within the sector. Many farmers are not willing to sacrifice so much of their cattle, or their profits, for so little in return.

SEE ALSO: Colombia and Venezuela: Criminal Siamese Twins

Not only are the price restrictions affecting the bottom lines of Venezuelan farmers, but the Maduro administration also shut down cross-border trade with Colombia due to an alleged outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the neighboring country.

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuelan farmers desperate as they face production loss to drastic government controls could be tempted to sell their cattle under more lucrative conditions but at the risk of falling into the hands of criminal networks that smuggle it into Colombia.

In May 2018, representatives from Venezuela’s livestock industry warned of criminal gangs and “border mafias” damaging beef production in the country.

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami defended the government’s actions and accused the country’s meat industry of instituting boycotts and hiding its products.

“Some sectors want to continue with the criminal policies of smuggling contraband into Colombia,” he said.

Chara Melgarejo is the FEDENAGA director in Venezuela’s border state of Apure. He told InSight Crime that “in the only government-authorized slaughterhouse, they pay 50 percent of the cost. The rest is paid in installments [which are diluted by the country’s hyperinflation]. Meanwhile, in Colombia they pay everything at once and in cash.”

Butchers in Apure state’s border town of El Nula told InSight Crime that one kilogram of meat is sold locally at 5,000 Colombian pesos ($1.50), but when it is sold as contraband in Colombia it can reach between 9,000 Colombian pesos ($3).

SEE ALSO: Cattle Smuggling Defies Drop in Colombia-Venezuela Contraband

State controls could also be restricting the movement of cattle from the border and plains regions of Venezuela -- its main beef producers -- to the country’s own major consumption centers.

The situation could be one of the causes behind the growth of contraband Venezuelan cattle in Colombia reported over the past few months, as smuggling becomes increasingly profitable for criminal organizations like the ELN and government corruption networks.

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

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 13 AUG 2013

Though described by many as an important step forward in curbing violence, the gun reform law passed in June came…

COLOMBIA / 13 OCT 2019

A new investigation has revealed the range of roles women play in drug trafficking organizations in Colombia and the vulnerable…

INFOGRAPHICS / 3 FEB 2014

Since our last article in this series there have been significant changes in the administration of citizen security in Venezuela.

About InSight Crime

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.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…