HomeNewsBriefVenezuelan Police Clash With Indigenous Suspected Fuel Traffickers
BRIEF

Venezuelan Police Clash With Indigenous Suspected Fuel Traffickers

COLOMBIA / 5 MAR 2012 BY HANNAH STONE EN

A shootout between police in northern Venezuela and a suspected fuel trafficker, who was a member of the Wayuu people, draws attention to the role of the indigenous group in this trade.

El Universal reports that police sighted the alleged trafficker when he was filling up his vehicle at a pump in a northern neighborhood of the city of Maracaibo, which is about 100 km by road from the Colombian border.

According to the police, the suspect fled and hid in a building, where he and other traffickers engaged in a shootout with police that left him dead and 12 others injured. A group of protesters then went to the police station and mayor's office, demanding that the police who had fired the fatal shots be handed over. They claimed that the shooting had broken out when the suspects refused to pay bribes to the police.

InSight Crime Analysis

Fuel trafficking from Venezuela to Colombia is profitable because of the Venezuelan government's generous fuel subsidies. The country topped a recent list by UK insurance company Staveley Head of the cheapest gas prices in the world, at an average of $0.18 per gallon. This is thanks to generous subsidies from the government. Over the border in Colombia the price rises dramatically -- in border town Cucuta a gallon of gas currently costs 4,036 pesos, which is the equivalent of $2.27.

The northern border region of the Colombian province of La Guajira and the Venezuelan state of Zulia, where Maracaibo is located, is a popular crossing point for fuel smugglers. Much of the land on the Colombian side is a reserve for the Wayuu indigenous group, who are present on both sides of the border, meaning that there is less presence from the security forces. In the past, the trade in this region was controlled by the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), who had a branch called the Wayuu Counter-Insurgent Front.

Now, with the demobilization of the AUC in the mid 2000s, the fuel trade is thought to be in the hands of members of the Wayuu, who work in groups constituted by extended family ties. In crossing points elsewhere on the border more organized criminal groups are involved, such as the Colombian Rastrojos in Norte de Santander province, further south.

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 / 6 SEP 2022

Will the killing of seven police officers allegedly by ex-FARC Mafia derail Gustavo Petro's 'Total Peace' plan?…

CARIBBEAN / 9 JUL 2021

Two days on from the nighttime assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, competing theories have failed to provide…

COCAINE / 26 MAY 2021

A Turkish mafia boss has claimed cocaine is being trafficked directly from Venezuela to Turkey in a viral video, pointing…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

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…