By Sam Tambory
Venezuela’s foreign minister has stated in front of the United Nations that her country does not have an endemic drug trafficking problem despite overwhelming evidence the country has become a key drug transshipment point.
Speaking in front of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) on April 21, Minister for Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodríguez made statements championing the success of the country’s national anti-drug plan, reported El Universal.
“We, from Venezuela, in the last several years under the leadership of the Bolivarian Revolution, can say without any doubt that we are not a producer nation nor do we have an endemic drug trafficking problem,” said Rodríguez.
Chancellor Rodríguez went on to claim Venezuela is also not a drug consumer country and that drug trade profits are not laundered in the country. She added the country has advanced an anti-drug plan that is centered on “human beings,” focused on respecting their democratic and human rights.
InSight Crime Analysis
While Venezuela is not a significant producer of drugs, the foreign minister’s comments about its role in trafficking draw a sharp contrast to a broad range of evidence suggesting Venezuela is a prominent drug transshipment point.
The US State Department’s 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report characterizes Venezuela as a one of the region’s preferred trafficking routes due to its “porous western border with Colombia, weak judicial system, sporadic international counternarcotics cooperation, and permissive and corrupt environment.”
Overland trafficking routes across the border with Colombia channel cocaine into Venezuela for both domestic consumption and international distribution. Venezuela is a departure point for illicit drug flights, creating an air bridge that connects drug shipments to Central America, the Caribbean and the US as well as shipments trafficked to West Africa and Europe.
In addition to criminal gangs and the Colombian armed groups that operate in border regions, corrupt members of Venezuela‘s security forces are also thought to be widely active in the country’s drug trade, facilitating border crossings and the departure of illicit drug flights. This loose network of security forces has been dubbed the Cartel of the Suns (Cartel de los Soles) due to the sun insignia on the uniforms of military generals.
SEE ALSO: Cartel de los Soles News and Profiles
Venezuela saw a rash of drug trafficking allegations made against top government officials in 2015, including moves by the US Justice Department to indict several high ranking military officers. Various arrests and efforts to prosecute lower-level security forces highlight the extent to which drug trafficking in the security forces appears to be present at all levels.