The high-profile case of a beauty queen murdered in Venezuela has been declared solved, with authorities' ability to act efficiently only emphasizing the extreme level of impunity in the country.
The murders on January 6 of 2004 Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her British ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry sent shockwaves through the country and caused President Nicholas Maduro to publicly declare he would take a personal interest in seeing the case solved.
The pair were murdered during a robbery as they were being assisted after their car broke down on a highway in the state of Carabobo, 100 miles west of capital Caracas.
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Although five arrests were quickly made after the killings, authorities announced a total of seven people had been detained. All of them were alleged members of a gang known as "Los sanguinarios del Cambur" (The bloodthirsty ones from Cambur), reported El Tiempo.
The quick resolution of the crime comes on a backdrop of overwhelming impunity in Venezuela, with 92 of every 100 murders going unsolved, according to experts; a fact which inspires young Venezuelans to become embroiled in criminality because of the high rewards and low risks involved, reported AFP.
InSight Crime Analysis
While the apparent resolution of this case will likely be lauded by Maduro, the fact authorities are capable of acting so swiftly when they need to only highlights the ineffectiveness of security forces and politicization of crime in the country.
Given the extreme level of impunity, robberies in Venezuela are often followed by murder, with criminals preferring to leave no witnesses and facing little fear of being captured for killings. Violent crime has spiraled out of control in the past 15 years, with AFP reporting more than 24,000 people were murdered in 2013, compared to just 4,550 in 1998 -- the year Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez came to power. As highlighted by AFP, this trend has not been stemmed by 21 security plans launched since Chavez entered office.
Part of the problem is the dire pay of security services officials, exacerbated by rampant inflation as a result of economic mismanagement. Meanwhile, Chavez nurtured a culture of extreme social division between rich and poor, which persists today. With inflation and insecurity showing no signs of abating, it is difficult to see how Maduro can stop the country's descent into chaos.