Still from security video apparently showing a Caracas kidnapping

Footage making the rounds online purportedly shows a kidnapping taking place on the streets of Caracas, with heavily armed men threatening a group of people inside a car, before climbing in and driving them away.

The footage shows a quiet street in El Hatillo, southeast Caracas, on September 16. At 6:30 p.m. a car parks by the side of the road, and seconds later another car appears and stops in front of it. Three men carrying large guns get out, and threaten the people inside the car. They make the driver get out and sit in the back seat, and then climb in themselves. Both cars then drive away.

News reports did not identify the victims, though one journalist described it as an "express kidnapping."

InSight Crime Analysis

Kidnapping rates have shot up over the last few years in Venezuela, from some 44 in 1999, to 1,105 in 2011, according to investigative police unit the CICPC.

These figures do not include express kidnapping, a growing practice where the victim is held for as little as a few hours until the perpetrators receive a ransom. Mexico's ambassador to Caracas and his wife were the victims of an express kidnapping in February, and were held for four hours after being abucted when leaving a party. Police sources told El Universal last year that the capital alone may see up to two express kidnappings a day.

Some attribute the rise in kidnapping to the spillover of Colombian criminal gangs into Venezuela. However, this explanation fails to account for the surge of abductions in urban areas like Caracas, as Colombian groups are typically based around the border. The phenomenon is driven by local gangs and, to a lesser degree, corruption within the security forces -- one former police official told InSight Crime that as many as 70 percent of kidnappings in the capital had police involvement.

Investigations

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

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Colombia Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

The power of Colombia's elites is founded upon one of the most unequal divisions of land in the world. As of the early 21st century, one percent of landowners own more than half the country's agricultural land.1  Under Spanish rule, Colombia's agriculture was organized on the hacienda...

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is carried out by transnational criminal organizations, local drug trafficking groups, gangs and corrupt security forces, among other actors. Violence is the focal point for the international aid...

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Elites and Organized Crime: Introduction

Organized crime and the violence associated with it is the preeminent problem in Latin America and the Caribbean today. The region is currently home to six of the most violent countries in the world that are not at war. Four of those countries are in Central America...

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

Special Report: Gangs in Honduras

In a new report based on extensive field research, InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad mas Justa have traced how Honduras' two largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, are evolving, and how their current modus operandi has resulted in staggering levels of violence...

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Bolivia: the New Hub for Drug Trafficking in South America

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

Justice and the Creation of a Mafia State in Guatemala

As Guatemala's Congress gears up to select new Supreme Court Justices and appellate court judges, InSight Crime is investigating how organized crime influences the selection process. This story details the interests of one particular political bloc vying for control over the courts and what's at stake: millions...

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

The FARC 2002-Present: Decapitation and Rebirth

In August 2002, the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) greeted Colombia's new president with a mortar attack that killed 14 people during his inauguration. The attack was intended as a warning to the fiercely anti-FARC newcomer. But it became the opening salvo of...

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The Urabeños - The Criminal Hybrid

The mad scramble for criminal power in the aftermath of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) is over. The Urabeños, or as they prefer to call themselves, the "Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia," have won.

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Mexico's Security Dilemma: The Battle for Michoacan

Faced with the government's failure to rein in the criminals, communities across crime-besieged Mexico have been trying for years to organize effective civic resistance. Michoacan's vigilantes express the most extreme response by society to date, but other efforts have been less belligerent. In battle-torn cities along the...

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill Faces Political, Economic Obstacles

If Uruguay's proposal to regulate the production, sale and distribution of marijuana is properly implemented and overcomes political and economic hurdles, it could be the most important drug regulation experiment in decades.