Venezuela’s most murderous federal state, Delta Amacuro, the area linked with major drug trafficking, a proliferation of gangs and other illicit activities, is also one of that country’s closest points to T&T.
This fact is causing major concern as recent intelligence reports indicate the presence of notorious Venezuelan gang Evande in this country. Their members have reportedly formed alliances with local gangs and are fingered in illegal activities here which have contributed to s spike in homicides over the last few weeks.
Delta Amacuro, which is at least four times the size of Trinidad, has developed into a major criminal underworld location and there is evidence that its crime bosses are using T&T as a drug trafficking transhipment point. That revelation was made in a paper prepared by Jesus Manuel Ares Mujuica for his Master’s in International Relations at the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals in 2015, The dramatic increase of violent crime in Venezuela since 1999: The relationship between homicide and the country’s new role in drug trafficking.
A US Department of State Diplomatic Security Report in 2018 also outlined the criminal threats Venezuela has faced with its economic collapse and growing tensions between the Nicholas Maduro regime and Juan Guiado, who declared himself the country’s interim president.
The 2018 US report stated cites information from the Venezuelan NGO Observatory of Violence (OVV) which described the country is the second most murderous nation after El Salvador. The OVV has tracked violence using police sources and media reporting. It states that in 2017 Venezuela had more than 26,616 homicides at a rate of 89 per 100,000 inhabitants.
This upsurge in violent crimes is driven by the drug trade and criminal gangs. The US report states that a “lack of international counternarcotics cooperation in Venezuela and a shift in regional trafficking patterns has made Venezuela one of the biggest drug-transit countries in the region.”
And that’s where the findings on Delta Amacuro come in based on information obtained by the OVV and quoted in the paper prepared by Mujica.
Data obtained through the OVV shows that the Delta Amacuro had one of Venezuela’s highest homicide rates by 2012.
“It is one of the least populated federal entities in Venezuela, holding the position 23 out of 25 states by population density in 2011. It has a population of 167,676 inhabitants compared to Miranda with 2,676,165 inhabitants.”
There are high flows of illicit drugs through its ports and statistics show that it had the highest increase in homicides between 1995 and 2012—an alarming 1400 per cent.
Prior to that, Delta Amacuro had one of the country’s lowest homicide rates.
The state of Sucre and its city Guiria, which is also very close to T&T, also has a high homicide rate with an increase of 1100 per cent from 1995-2012.
In his report, Mujica quoted from a presentation by Deborah Yashar, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, who said violence is higher in port cities and areas through which drugs are moving.
Mujica wrote: “The state has four main rivers: the Orinoco, Amacuro, Barima, and Grande. It is also part of the border with Guyana, and the mouths of the rivers finish in the Atlantic Ocean. This is an important door for trafficking to Trinidad, Tobago, and Europe.”
His research also yielded from the El Nacional daily newspaper in Venezuela that “Delta Amacuro is now one of the main ports in the country for clandestine ships that navigate throughout the 3,622 branches of the rivers located in the state.”
Further, the state’s “role in the cocaine trafficking route has increased due to its geography, not only because of the number of rivers . . . but also because it is a border state with Guyana and the closest port from Trinidad and Tobago.”
Some of the drug cartels that operate in Venezuela, according to Insight Crime, include national cartels and Colombian armed forces, including the ELN (Ejercito De Liberacion Nacional) Colombian guerillas who have had a presence in Venezuela since 2000. This cartel uses Apure, another Venezuelan state, to conduct their illicit activities.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has also been operating in Venezuela and the country’s security forces have been accused of helping FARC in cocaine trafficking.
A fairly new criminal group, Bandas Criminales Emergentes (BACRIM), is also operating in Venezuela, as well as Aguilas Negras and Los Rastrojos, according to Insight Crime.