HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Kidnappers Charging Ransom in US Dollars: Report
BRIEF

Venezuela Kidnappers Charging Ransom in US Dollars: Report

VENEZUELA / 20 MAY 2016 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Venezuela kidnappers are now demanding ransom payments in US dollars rather than the local currency, according to a new report, revealing how even criminal groups are not immune to the country’s deepening economic crisis.

The tumbling value of Venezuela’s national currency, the bolivar, has compelled kidnap groups to change their modus operandi, reported Sumarium. Relatives and associates of kidnap victims told Sumarium their captors had demanded between $7,000 and $10,000 in ransom. 

“They grabbed my wife… when they called me the first thing they demanded of me was dollars,” one individual said.

An unidentified police official explained kidnappers only start demanding bolivars after the ransom sum passes the $10,000 threshold. 

“The family members of the captives collect their savings in dollars or euros when the ransom does not surpass $10,000,” the official said. “When they ask for more, the kidnappers agree to negotiate in bolivars.”

Kidnappers are not the only criminal networks ditching the bolivar in favor of US or European currency. Sumarium noted a recent media report by La Vanguardia in which an inmate states that he pays bribes to military officials in euros in order to obtain weapons inside the prison facility. Criminal bosses in Caracas have also reportedly offered to pay their henchmen up to $1,000 for every intelligence officer they kill. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Venezuela’s economy is in free fall. And if the ghastly figures — a projected 500 percent inflation rate in 2016 and the value of the US dollar quadrupling over the past year on the black market currency exchange — are hard to conceptualize, reports such as Sumarium’s drive home that point. Drug traffickers across Latin America have long dealt in US dollars, of course, but the spread of this practice to local criminal industries like kidnapping is a striking illustration of oil-rich Venezuela’s crumbling economy — and the government’s woeful management of fiscal policy. 

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Venezuela is also facing a breakdown of law and order in the country, which in turn has caused a rise in vigilante-style justice as crimes go unpunished by law enforcement. An angry mob recently beat a man they believed had stolen five dollars, before dousing him in gasoline and burning him alive.

“We wanted to teach this man a lesson,” a young man told the Associated Press. “We’re tired of being robbed every time we go into the street, and the police do nothing.”

The worsening situation in Venezuela may be providing criminal groups an opportunity to grow their ranks and expand their operations. In July 2015, the Venezuelan Organized Crime Observatory noted with alarm the rise of so-called “mega-gangs” across the country. 

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.

Tags

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

VENEZUELA / 27 OCT 2015

Venezuela's drastic measures to secure its border with Colombia have now reached the southern state of Amazonas, but…

BRAZIL / 5 NOV 2014

In an operation that saw dozens arrested across four states, authorities in Brazil targeted a crime ring that allegedly provided…

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2010

Colombia's Defense Minister, Rodrigo Rivera, announced that he would meet on November 19th with the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior,…

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…