HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Kidnapping Figures Mask True Scale of Problem
BRIEF

Venezuela Kidnapping Figures Mask True Scale of Problem

KIDNAPPING / 11 JUL 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Venezuela reportedly saw 110 kidnappings in the first six months of 2014, indicating a downward trend in incidences of the crime, but this figure likely says little about the true scale of the problem.

Of these kidnappings, the greatest number took place in capital city Caracas, with 29 cases, according to figures obtained by El Nacional. Following Caracas were the states of Miranda and Carabobo -- on the Caribbean coast -- and Zulia, on the northern border with Colombia. One hundred of the total victims remain in captivity.

In one high-profile case this year, Globovision journalist Nairobi Pinto was abducted in April. Her kidnappers reportedly did not demand a ransom payment and Pinto was released eight days later.

Kidnapping figures for 2014 only amount to a third of the cases recorded between January and November 2013, according to El Nacional. This means the number of reported kidnappings is on track to come in below last year's levels.

InSight Crime Analysis

Kidnapping in Venezuela has reached epidemic proportions since late President Hugo Chavez took power in 1999, as growing social instability and poverty levels have provided fertile breeding grounds for both organized and petty crime to flourish. In the first 12 years of Chavez's presidency, official figures revealed a more than 20-fold increase in kidnapping.

Recent government statistics indicate kidnappings decreased by 51 percent between June 2013 and June 2014 -- the year following the creation of a national anti-kidnapping unit.

However, it is unlikely that either this figure or the numbers acquired by El Nacional reflect the actual scale of the problem. According to criminologist Fermin Marmol Garcia, at least 70 percent of kidnappings in Venezuela go unreported. 

Government kidnapping statistics also exclude the most common form of the crime -- express kidnappings -- which frequently last only a few hours. Field research carried out by InSight Crime indicates there were between 20 and 40 express kidnappings a day in Caracas alone in 2010, while a study by criminologist Marmol concluded that 90 percent of all kidnappings in 2012 fit this modality.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

According to a report by Control Risks, Venezuela had the second highest number of kidnappings in Latin America in 2013 -- surpassed only by Mexico -- and the fifth highest in the world, placing it above both Colombia and Brazil.

While Colombian criminals and guerrilla groups have for some time been important perpetrators of the crime in Venezuela's border regions, there have been recent reports of binational Colombian-Venezuelan gangs operating in the interior of the country. Additionally, corrupt police are thought to play a major role in Venezuelan kidnapping. 

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

EL KOKI / 23 JUL 2021

Salesmen in Caracas have come up with an enterprising response to the Venezuelan capital’s descent into criminal warfare: selling devotional…

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2022

One of the ELN's most infamous leader, alias Pablito, has been crucial in helping the Colombian guerrilla group move its…

ELITES AND CRIME / 25 FEB 2021

As alleged Maduro financier Alex Saab awaits potential extradition to the United States, the Venezuelan government decided that a concert…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…