HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Seizes Tons of Contraband Cable
BRIEF

Venezuela Seizes Tons of Contraband Cable

CONTRABAND / 10 OCT 2017 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Recent copper seizures in Venezuela show that basic supplies continue to seep out of the country as its economic crisis deepens, and people take desperate measures to earn extra cash.

Venezuela’s investigative police have seized 7.5 metric tons of copper pipes and arrested over 100 people during various operations against illegal contraband, El Nacional reported

The copper mainly originated from the capital city Caracas and the nearby states of Carabobo and Aragua, and was destined for other countries in the region, according to authorities. Some of it was seized on a ship heading from the coastal state of Falcón to Caribbean islands.

The police stated that several groups were responsible for copper theft across the country, and that they mainly target electricity contractor companies. These groups apparently consist of “expert” cable thieves and hire homeless people to carry out activities. The thefts have left several areas without electricity.

InSight Crime Analysis

As Venezuela’s people grapple with a dire economic crisis, chronic inflation and shortages, and a lack of basic public services, metal smuggling into other countries has apparently gained popularity. Bronze, aluminium and copper and other metals are smuggled on both a large, organized scale, and by individuals seeking some extra income.

A kilogram of copper can reportedly be sold in the Colombian border town Cúcuta for around 36,000 Venezuelan bolivars, which is worth just over $1 today. Given that Venezuela’s minimum monthly wage is around $5, this represents a significant income on the other side of the border.

SEE ALSO:  Coverage of Contraband

People have reportedly been breaking into and stealing kilometers of copper electricity wires from public and private infrastructure, including schools, health centers, briquette factories, traffic lights and lampposts. In some cases, residents take cables from their own houses to sell them as scrap to dealers. Those dealers go on to sell the copper to legal foundries and manufacturers in Venezuela, or smuggle it across the border to sell to scrap dealers in Colombia.

As with other forms of contraband, this practice feeds the cyclical deterioration of public services and infrastructure throughout Venezuela. The theft of cables has left neighborhoods and universities without electricity, internet or telephone services. The same happens with other vital services. For example, while Venezuela’s healthcare system cries out for the most basic supplies, hundreds of pharmaceuticals continue to flow illegally into the neighboring country.

Criminal markets other than contraband are also thriving in Venezuela, and Caracas is one of the most violent cities in the world. The militaryhigh ranking members of President Nicolás Maduro’s government as well as his own family have been implicated in the transnational cocaine trade.

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.

Related Content

CHILE / 23 JAN 2020

The seizure of tons of stolen copper near Santiago, Chile, set to be sent illegally to China, has revealed that…

PRISONS / 3 SEP 2012

A seven episode animated series on Youtube offers an inside look at the violence and intrigue inside a Venezuelan prison.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 26 JUL 2013

Interpol has seized nearly $40 million in illegally trafficked timber, the majority from Venezuela, suggesting the country is an increasingly…

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…