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.

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

COLOMBIA / 21 DEC 2021

The Segunda Marquetalia has seen its leadership decimated under bizarre circumstances, in the only place where the powerful Colombian dissident…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 4 MAR 2021

Mato Grosso do Sul is among Brazil’s most strategic states for transnational crime.

EL KOKI / 31 MAY 2022

Four months after Venezuelan security forces killed gang boss and public enemy No. 1, El Koki, police in his former…

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…