Homicide scene in Caracas

Venezuela's capital registered 3,218 homicides during the first 10 months of 2012, putting it on pace to surpass last year's total and indicating that clashes between street gangs remain one of the primary drivers of violence in the city.

The statistics are taken from the Venezuelan national police agency the CICPC, reported El Universal

According to the CICPC's numbers, 70 percent of the homicides in Caracas and the surrounding metropolitan area were related to armed assaults. The definition appears to encompass armed robbery, as well as confrontations between street gangs. There are thought to be hundreds of gangs in Caracas, usually no more than seven to 10 people defending small chunks of territory. 

Caracas' municipality of Libertador -- where the presidential palace and many other government buildings are based, alongside poorer neighborhoods like the 23 de Enero -- remains the most violent, with 2,580 murders registered so far this year, or about 258 murders a month. In comparison, the other four municipalities in the Caracas metropolitan district registered 638 homicide victims between January and October 2012.

Last year Caracas registered 3,488 homicides in total, according to the CICPC.

In the past, the police agency's numbers have been slightly smaller than those kept by NGO the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, which reported 19,336 homicide victims in Venezuela last year, compared to the CICPC's count of 18,850. The NGO called 2011 Venezuela's most violent year ever. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The homicide tally is an indication that consolidating security in Caracas will remain a challenge for President Hugo Chavez as he begins his fourth term. The CICPC data suggests that 2012 could turn out to be even more violent than 2011, if murders continue at the same pace.

The government has taken a few steps to try and stem violence in the capital, including overhauling the city police and encouraging disarmament schemes. But a weak judiciary means few are punished for committing crimes, leaving Caracas' street gangs essentially with free reign to deal drugs and kill one another over petty rivalries, with little intervention from the authorities.

Even with increased evidence that organized crime is deepening its hold inside the country, it appears that urban street gangs will remain the primary drivers of violence in the capital. 

 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.