HomeNewsBriefWomen, Youth Primed for Gang Recruitment in Venezuela
BRIEF

Women, Youth Primed for Gang Recruitment in Venezuela

ELN / 31 DEC 2018 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

A new report from a Venezuela non-governmental organization working on migration issues shows that Colombia's criminal groups have been recruiting Venezuelans into their ranks at an accelerated rate. The mass exodus of those fleeing the crisis in Venezuela has been exploited by these groups to bolster their number with the forced recruitment of women and young people.

The report by the Fundación Redes (Fundaredes) estimates that between 60 and 70 percent of members in certain Colombian gangs, such as Los Rastrojos, are Venezuelans aged between 16 and 25.

The study was prepared with the support of NGOs, such as Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Fundación Paz y Reconciliación) and the Progresar Foundation, and garnered testimonies from victims of these groups. These include a poignant account from a Venezuelan woman who, after crossing the border in July 2018 with relatives, had to jump out of a moving vehicle to escape from a man who was trying to force them to join a guerrilla group.

     SEE ALSO: Colombia's ELN, Ex-FARC Mafia Recruiting Hungry Venezuelan Migrants

By mid-2018, Fundaredes reported that more than 15,000 Venezuelan minors were serving in up to a dozen criminal organizations operating along the Colombian-Venezuelan border. However, figures from the Ideas for Peace Foundation (Fundación Ideas para la Paz – FIP)Ideas for La Paz foundation are more conservative. According to this Colombian NGO, approximately 300 Venezuelans joined the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) and some five criminal groups take advantage of the human mobility crisis generated in Venezuela.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recruitment of Venezuelans along the border with Colombia is not new, with cases being documented throughout 2018. But the increase in this phenomenon is becoming a severe cause for worry for NGOs and international organizations dealing with Venezuelan migration.

While governments on both sides have some data about this recruitment, the Fundaredes report is the only publicly available document to provide such details about how these victims are recruited and the percentage of Venezuelans that are part of these criminal groups.

In 2018, Fundaredes documented over 250 complaints of Venezuelans who were targeted by these recruitment efforts when crossing the border.

     SEE ALSO: Restrictions on Venezuela Migrants Boost Criminal Networks

The director of Fundaredes, Javier Tarazona, told InSight Crime that the organization has monitored this situation since 2009, allowing them to gain the trust of inhabitants of borders areas and even of dissidents from guerrilla groups.

"We have had access to dissidents from these paramilitary and guerrilla groups that have informed us of the recruitment process. This is how we have been able to understand the recruitment and indoctrination process for the new members of these groups," assured Tarazona.

The Venezuelan diaspora is continuously growing with the International Organization for Migration reporting that it had reached three million by November 2018, of which more than one million are in Colombia. This plays right into the hands of the criminal groups that act with impunity along with the Colombian-Venezuelan border, while perfecting their modus operandi to lure more and more fleeing Venezuelans into their ranks.

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

CARIBBEAN / 20 MAY 2019

A Venezuelan criminal gang has migrated to the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago -- sounding alarms about the expansion…

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 MAY 2018

In our May 17 Facebook Live session, co-director Jerry McDermott and Spanish editor Ronna Rísquez explained the characteristics that transformed…

GENDER AND CRIME / 13 DEC 2011

Media representations of women caught up Mexico’s drug conflict are often two-dimensional, resorting to the dichotomy of portraying women either…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…

THE ORGANIZATION

Exploring Climate Change and Organized Crime

10 SEP 2021

In July, InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley moderated a panel for the Climate Reality Project's regional series of workshops for young climate activists in the Americas. The week-long event…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gearing Up a New Class of Interns

3 SEP 2021

InSight Crime is readying its newest class of interns – from universities in Europe and the Americas – to begin investigative work on a number of high-impact projects. For the…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Environmental Crime in the Amazon

27 AUG 2021

Next week, InSight Crime launches an investigation – conducted with Brazilian think-tank the Igarapé Institute – on the sophisticated organized crime structures and armed groups that…