HomeNewsBriefVenezuela Set to Mass Produce Kalashnikovs, Sniper Rifles
BRIEF

Venezuela Set to Mass Produce Kalashnikovs, Sniper Rifles

VENEZUELA / 19 JUL 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

Venezuela is nearing completion of an arms factory which will produce 25,000 Kalashnikov and sniper rifles a year, a development which could have troublesome implications for the conflict in neighboring Colombia.

In a June 13 televised speech, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised an arms factory in Aragua state, constructed with Russian assistance. Though it is still waiting on equipment from Russia, when production is at full capacity the factory will be able to produce 25,000 rifles and 60 million rounds a year. The factory has already produced 3,000 AK-103 assault rifles, according to Chavez.

The factory (see video below) will produce a series of rifles, which the president referred to as "Catatumbo" rifles. The guns will be available in various calibers, including a .50 caliber anti-materiel version which can be used against vehicles and helicopters. The first of these will be delivered to the military in September.

General Julio Cesar Morales Prieto, head of Venezuela's state-run Cavim arms company, also claimed that the factory will produce a grenade launcher compatible with the AK-103. When the factory is finished Venezuela will produce 18,000 of these a year, with 200 to be produced in September.

InSight Crime Analysis

The largest rebel group in neighboring Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are likely to take an interest in this factory. Given that Venezuela has been accused of using the FARC as strategic leverage against neighboring Colombia, there have long been concerns the group may be arming itself in Venezuela, where illicit weapons are extremely common.

The FARC is no stranger to raiding (or buying) government arms stockpiles, so if it wants to avoid accusations it is arming the FARC, Venezuela will need to take precautionary measures to ensure these rifles do not fall into the hands of the rebels.

The guerrilla group is increasingly relying on sniper attacks, and one of "Catatumbo" rifles to be produced reportedly has an effective range of 800 meters, making it an ideal choice for FARC snipers. Additionally, if the rebels were able to get a regular supply of .50 caliber anti-materiel rifles, they could better deter helicopter attacks, denying the Colombian security forces a key advantage: air superiority. For the same reason, the group has reportedly sought anti-air missiles from the Venezuelan authorities, but has apparently failed since none have been seen in combat.

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.

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

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 9 DEC 2015

According to a report by ABC España, the United States plans to bring formal drug trafficking charges…

BRAZIL / 7 APR 2017

Venezuela's capital Caracas has been ranked as the world's deadliest city for a second year in a row, while Latin…

CONTRABAND / 3 APR 2015

When subsidized products become available at supermarkets in Venezuela, networks of foot soldiers called “bachaqueros” swoop in and empty shelves…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…