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The increase in maritime piracy between Trinidad and Venezuela, expressed in robberies and attacks on fishermen, point to a strategy of drug trafficking organizations located in the state of Sucre, in eastern Venezuela, to clear the route of the drug trafficked from the Venezuelan coasts towards the islands of the Caribbean, and from there towards the United States and Europe.
The constant siege suffered by the fishermen of Trinidad by members of Venezuelan criminal groups was recently reported by The Telegraph, attributing to the economic and social crisis in Venezuela the criminality in an area where smuggling has been a way of life for many inhabitants of both countries , barely separated by 16 kilometers of sea.
In recent years, this crime has increased due to the scarcity of essential products in Venezuela. The robberies to the fishermen are frequent, who are stripped of their belongings and the engines of their workboats during violent attacks.
“The wave of oceanic banditry has worrying parallels with the Somali piracy crisis of a decade ago, where once again, the problem began with the unemployed fishermen who started stealing passing boats,” says The Telegraph.
However, sources consulted by InSight Crime agreed that it is a more complex issue: the so-called “pirates of the Caribbean” operate at the service of two organizations engaged in international drug trafficking, which are located in Rio Caribe, Arismendi municipality of the state Sucre: the bands of San Juan de Unare and San Juan de las Galdonas.
Sucre has been the seat of drug trafficking for more than 10 years. It is currently the fifth most violent state in Venezuela, according to the 2018 Report of the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV), with a rate of 97 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 16 points compared to the previous year. “And this is related to the expansion of organized crime to these areas to control drug trafficking to the islands and the Caribbean Sea,” says the NGO document.
The objective of these modern pirates would be to clear the drug routes east of Venezuela and the way to achieve this is by stealing engines and equipment from fishermen, both from Trinidad and Venezuela, to prevent them from traveling along the maritime strip between two countries; precisely because of the route through which cocaine and marijuana shipments circulate from Colombia, cross Venezuela and continue towards the Caribbean islands, sources from the OVV in Sucre state told InSight Crime.
“They steal the engines so they do not continue to transit the area and, even without wanting to, can witness drug trafficking operations, which are carried out with total impunity,” said a representative of the OVV.
“Two days ago they stole two engines from us, they took the fishing from their companions and beat them,” a fisherman from Río Caribe, whose name is omitted to preserve his physical integrity, told InSight Crime. He said that during 2018 the pirates snatched 31 engines. “We still have 76, but we dare not venture into the sea because the whole coast of Paria is a red zone and is dominated by the bands of Unare and San Juan,” he lamented.
The fisherman emphasized the defenselessness in which they find themselves: “We went to Cicpc (Body of Scientific, Criminal and Criminal Investigations) and did nothing. There is no one to complain to, because the same security forces are accomplices of the drug traffickers. And it is that many people in the communities also lend themselves to this crime. The pirates work for the bands, “said the fisherman.
A journalist from Sucre state, whose identity is reserved for security reasons, added that the San Juan de Unare and San Juan de las Galdonas gangs amass enough drug money to buy (in dollars) the permissiveness of the security forces of the state. State, and specifically the Coastal Surveillance Command of the National Guard, which is in charge of the custody of the area. “Neither they wanted to fight the drug traffickers of Paria, because the Coast Guard of Güiria barely has a boat that is not enough to patrol the entire area,” he added.
On the other hand, criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking that exercise a hegemonic power on the coasts of the Sucre state have resorted to the recruitment of fishermen who become pirates and act against those who have not yet been tempted to abandon their traditional source of income to join the lucrative illegal businesses that control the bands.
“The pirates who work for drug trafficking organizations have speedboats with more powerful engines, which allows them to move drugs, weapons and any other illegal merchandise from Sucre to Trinidad in just a few minutes and, if necessary, subdue them by force. to anyone who crosses the road, “said the journalist of the region.
The controversial information about massacres and forced disappearances of people, as a result of the struggle between the bands of San Juan de Unare and San Juan de las Galdonas, have also generated fears in the town. The sources consulted by InSight Crime agree that there is no agreement of coexistence between the two criminal groups, but a bloody rivalry for the control of the territory and the criminal markets.
In 2015, InSight Crime warned of the rise of piracy between the coasts of Trinidad and Venezuela. The organization Oceans Beyond Piracy recorded a 163 percent increase in crimes committed in the area. At the beginning of 2018, Bloomberg insisted on showing how the absence of the Venezuelan State in the Sucre state fosters organized crime. However, the situation has degenerated into a generalized anomie and terror has spread among the population.
Source: Venezuela al Dia