Fisherman bringing their boat ashore on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast

Venezuela's dire economic situation is fueling piracy off the coastal state of Sucre, providing one example of the various illicit activities growing along the country's Caribbean coast that have come to affect local communities.

The ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela has hit the once-thriving fishing industry in Sucre particularly hard, pushing local fisherman to turn to illicit activities for sustenance, according to Associated Press.

"People can't make a living fishing anymore, so they're using their boats for the options that remain: smuggling gas, running drugs and piracy," union leader José Antonio García told the news service.

The media outlet said pirates target local fishermen to rob them of their netted fish or the boat's motor -- the latter item being particularly valuable for drug traffickers looking to increase the horsepower of their vessels.

The Associated Press reports that some of these thefts have turned deadly. Dozens have reportedly been killed during robberies this year, fueling bloody vendettas between some of the victims' families and the aggressors.

Acts of piracy along coastal Venezuela also affect other states and other types of victims. According to the International Chamber of Commerce, four anchored cargo ships were boarded this year close to Puerto de la Cruz in the Anzoátegui state, to the west of Sucre.

InSight Crime Analysis

Acts of piracy against cargo vessels or private yachts off Venezuela's Caribbean coast have been reported for a number of years now, and Sucre's waters were already considered highly risky as far back as 2010, according to a report by a Venezuelan non-governmental organization working on maritime security. But the country's dire economic situation appears to be contributing to an increase in piracy targeting large and small commercial interests alike.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profile

Moreover, the economic hardship seems to be encouraging many to become involved in other illicit activities like drug trafficking and human smuggling as opportunities for legal work dry up. These trends are illustrated by recent press reports from El Estimulo, which quoted a local fisherman admitting that "at least 80 percent of the inhabitants of [San Juan de las Galdonas, a coastal town in Sucre] are involved in" drug trafficking, and the New York Times, which reported on an increase in human smuggling on the Caribbean coast as thousands of Venezuelans attempt to escape their country's devolving economic situation.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
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...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

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...

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...

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...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.