Venezuelan authorities stand by a dismembered body

Fourteen dismembered corpses have been found so far this year in Caracas, suggesting that the gruesome tactics of foreign criminal groups -- and possibly the criminals themselves -- have found their way to Venezuela's capital.

Three of these cases have occurred in the past month, according to SuNoticiero. In July, the arms, legs and head of a young male victim were discovered in a bag. His torso was recovered nearly a month later. Days before that, the mutilated remains of a kidnapped Portuguese businessman were found along a main highway, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais. Last week, the dismembered body of a woman was discovered -- also on a public highway -- hidden amid bags of trash.

According to El Pais, 14 such cases have been reported in the capital city this year. Dismembered bodies have also been found in Tachira state, on the Colombian border.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said there had been cases in which the "Colombian necktie" method was applied -- this refers to the practice of slitting the throat of the victim and pulling their tongue through the hole. He stated that this method, along with dismemberment, were "types of homicide copied from other places." An unnamed police source interviewed by SuNoticiero said dismemberment was a tactic seen particularly in the Colombian border region.

While a companion of the victim is accused of being behind one of the dismemberment cases, the general pattern points to the involvement of criminal groups, according to SuNoticiero's source.

InSight Crime Analysis

As the Venezuelan government presents a narrative of improving security -- Minister Rodriguez recently said kidnappings were down this year by 52 percent and homicides by 21 percent -- these recent cases present a worrying picture of the security situation. 

Dismemberment is a crime often associated with large-scale, expansionist criminal organizations in places like Colombia and Mexico. The tactic has also begun to appear in Honduras, where foreign organized crime has become increasingly rooted in recent years. Dismemberment is used by criminal groups to impede homicide investigations, by making bodies hard to identify, and as an intimidation tactic.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Criminal Migration

Colombian narco-paramilitary groups -- with the Urabeños currently the most prominent -- are known to operate on the Venezuelan side of the border. There have also been reports of kidnapping gangs composed of both Colombian and Venezuelan criminals operating in more central Venezuelan states.

As social and political chaos reigns in Venezuela, criminal groups flourish. The dismemberment cases could be an indication of a growing foreign criminal presence, or could mean that Venezuelan groups themselves are adopting increasingly brutal methods.

Investigations

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

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs.