A video has surfaced in which Venezuelan police officers appear to execute at least one suspect, a troubling sign for the nation's new security offensive against organized crime that officials say has already resulted in over 50 deaths.
Newspaper El Nuevo Herald obtained a video in which individuals wearing police uniforms are seen executing a suspect behind a building where at least three other bodies are already laying. (See video below) After the suspect is shot, the perpetrators arrange the body and throw water on his face. The incident allegedly took place on August 5 in a suburb of the northern city of Maracay.
Police suspected the victim of being a member of one of Venezuela's "mega-gangs," and later reported the incident as a shootout that occurred while officers prevented a robbery, according to El Nuevo Herald.
In response, members of the mega-gang have reportedly launched attacks against police and a police station, which have so far left two officers dead.
El Nuevo Herald stated the video was obtained via a "trustworthy source" with ties to Venezuelan security forces, but the newspaper could not independently verify the authenticity of the recording.
Warning: the above video contains graphic images
InSight Crime Analysis
As chilling as the video is, what is perhaps most troubling is what this might tell us about Venezuela's recently launched security offensive against criminal groups, dubbed by authorities as "Operation Liberation and Protection of the People" (OLP).
On August 12, Interior Minister Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez announced 52 suspects have been killed in confrontations with security forces since the OLP was initiated one month ago. Despite the high body count, it does not appear that any security forces have died in the alleged confrontations. The video only heightens existing fears that the military and police officers deployed under the OLP are using excessive force during raids.
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In spite of the controversies surrounding the OLP, Venezuelan authorities have shown no signs of scaling back the security plan.
"What we have seen in the past weeks is nothing compared to what we will see in the weeks to come," President Nicolas Maduro said recently. In celebrating the OLP's recent "achievements," Maduro announced some 20,000 new National Guard graduates would be incorporated into the security offensive within the week.