Venezuela - cocaina

How Venezuela Supplies Central America, Caribbean with Cocaine

Insight Crime report reveals which Venezuelan territories have been taken over by guerrilla groups dedicated to cultivating and harvesting coca

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Upon the arrival of Hugo Chavez to the presidency of Venezuela and the subsequent succession of Nicolás Maduro, the South American country became a cocaine producer and a bunker for international crime organizations.

A detailed report by Insight Crime reveals the territories taken over by Colombian guerrilla groups dedicated to the planting and harvesting of coca; it also shows the drug trafficking routes used and how the state gives the green light for all this to happen.

Western Venezuela is reportedly the preferred territory for drug trafficking organizations to produce and traffic coca. The InSight Crime report states that the guerrillas have accumulated experience in the planting and commercialization of coca and maintaining close ties with elements of the Venezuelan state.

Drug trafficking routes from Venezuela (Source: InSight Crime)

“On the Venezuelan side, Zulia state’s access to the Caribbean via Lake Maracaibo, as well as numerous clandestine airstrips, have made it a key dispatch point for drug shipments to Central America and the Caribbean,” the InSight Crime team noted.

According to the report, the U.S. government estimates that some 250 tons of coca are trafficked annually from Venezuela, representing 10-15% of estimated global production.

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Insight Crime found that Colombian guerrillas migrated to Venezuela to take over farms and territory to produce coca and then traffic it from there.

“The FARC dissidents pay the government for each kilo taken off and that payment goes to the (Venezuelan) generals,” said a source.

In 2020, the US Justice Department fingered Nicolas Maduro and other high-ranking regime officials as supporting members of a drug trafficking organization known as the Cartel of the Suns (Cartel de los Soles). However, according to InSight Crime, that criminal group has never actually been a drug cartel, but “a porous and fluid network of trafficking cells rooted in Venezuelan security forces, facilitated, protected and at times directed by political actors.”

In other words, the Cartel de los Soles ended up fragmented into multiple networks and gangs of narco-brokers. 

Photo: U.S. Government
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