A homicide scene in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has confirmed that over 16,000 people were killed in 2012, while over 2,000 were murdered during the first two months of 2013, pointing to little letup in the ongoing violence. 

As EL Universal reports, figures released by national police agency the CICPC counted 2,576 murders in Venezuela during January and February 2013.

Meanwhile, Vice President Nicolas Maduro told Venezuela's National Assembly last week that there had been 16,072 recorded homicides in 2012, representing a rate of 56 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. However, as  El Universal reports, an unofficial source at the CICPC said that Venezuela actually saw 21,600 homicides last year, a figure about 25 percent higher than Maduro's. 

Maduro's numbers are significantly lower than those published by non-governmental organization (NGO) the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, which put the 2012 murder rate at 73 per 100,000. However, even the lower figure cited by Maduro is the highest ever recorded in the country, and the second-highest rate in the world.

InSight Crime Analysis

Violence has risen sharply in Venezuela since President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1998, with murder rates doubling or tripling over a decade, according to different figures. As Insight Crime has reported, a mix of internal and external factors are to blame. Widespread impunity, the ubiquity of firearms, and weak institutions have all fueled crime and violence, as has the increased amount of cocaine shipments flowing through the country, controlled by corrupt elements of the police and military known as the Cartel of the Suns.

Each successive year produces another record homicide figure and the January/February police statistics suggest 2013 will be no different. It is also difficult to imagine how Venezuela could even begin to tackle endemic violence, given the uncertainties facing the political future of Chavez's government. So far, it is impossible to tell whether a government headed by Maduro -- who according to one poll would easily win a presidential vote should Chavez pass away -- could implement a more effective security policy, as there have been little indication so far what Maduro's policies would be.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
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...

'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...

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 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...

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...

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...