March 26, 2023

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Venezuela, from transit country to producer of cocaine | International

Criminal groups take advantage of the poor land route between the Amazonas and the states of Bolivar for drug trafficking.Sergio Gonzalez

Venezuela has become a major drug-producing country in recent years after being a major bridge for smuggling illegal goods for decades. This has been confirmed by the US government and the portal Crime of intelligence, a hemispheric monitor that tracks the impact of organized crime in the region. “During the Maduro era, drug trafficking has become nuclear with the proliferation of actors. The country’s participation in the global supply chain has expanded beyond drug trafficking, with the first attempts to produce cocaine. Caracas, usually through military officials, questions the reliability of these reports.

The Armed Forces’ Strategic Operations Command recently released evidence of various operations on its social networks documenting the burning of cocoa and poppy crops. “All who insult our laws and offend the country by their vile vices shall be banished,” the publication warns.

Accusations against the government of alleged drug-trafficking financial activities have intensified during the rule of Nicolás Maduro, already 10 years in power. In 2005, Chávez decided to end the anti-narcotics cooperation agreement between Venezuela and the DEA. His successor was blamed for the anarchy of the mining regions, a tolerant attitude toward Colombian guerrillas, the enthronement of mafias along the Colombian border, and the coordination of drug trafficking operations on the country’s east coast.

However, the extent of cacao leaf cultivation in Venezuela, at hundreds of hectares, is still less than that of Colombia, the world’s largest producer with 200,000 hectares, or its successors. Peru, 20,000 hectares, or Bolivia, close to 10,000. Some sources indicate that there are more processing labs than crops, especially in the plains states like Kogedis or in the eastern part of the country.

“Drug trafficking has become important as part of Maduro’s strategy to cling to power in the face of attacks on his government,” he says. Crime of intelligence. “His goal is not to capture the wealth of the transnational cocaine trade for himself, but to control and navigate its flow, using it as a mechanism to reward the political, military and criminal forces that the Maduro government needs to maintain control.”

Marijuana, poppy and cocoa leaf cultivation areas have been documented in the border regions of Colombia: Sierra de Pereja, south of Lake Maracaibo, in the state of Amazonas and in Alto Apuray. Lawyer and criminologist Luis Izquiel said, “The areas of the northern department of Santander in Colombia, the municipality of Tibu, have one of the largest drug cultivation areas in the world. This over-exploitation has permeated Venezuela. Many needy Venezuelan migrants are employed as laborers by irregular groups in border areas.

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The business and management of local drug production, which previously had a strong Colombian presence, has gradually passed into Venezuelan hands, although the presence of dissidents from the FARC and the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) seems undeniable, protecting and promoting much of this. activities. The effects of Plan Colombia, along with the peace accords, have created a significant exodus of Colombian troops to Venezuela.

“Definitely, the problem of trafficking and cultivation in the country has worsened,” says a prominent anti-narcotics judge, who preferred to remain anonymous. The magistrate explains that the Cartel de los Soules does not operate under a classic hierarchical criminal organization, killing selected individuals under the orders of a boss, as is the case in Colombia or Mexico. “This is a dense network of military personnel who trade in drugs and are tolerated at official events in exchange for support for the revolution. Although I must say that I know many professional and honest soldiers, with an inflexible stance on these issues, I am determined to do their job properly,” he added.

Javier Mayorga, director of the specialized portal Crimes Sin Punishment, said, “Venezuela has few tools to detect controlled crops, and since the break with the DEA, there has been voluntary blindness. Few outsiders can attest to local efforts. Visible from Colombia is the density of crops towards the border line”. Mayorga adds that there is a selective criterion of the state when attacking drug trafficking activities, and this bias can be seen in the fight against crime or illegal mining. “Some people are hit very hard, others will not even be touched by a rose petal,” he says.

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