A Venezuela police report asserted that 27 criminals were responsible for the majority of kidnappings in Caracas, a crime that is reaching epidemic proportions and contributing to the country’s opposition against Maduro.

According to a report from the Miranda National Guard’s Anti-extortion and Kidnapping Group (GAES), the 27 individuals make up seven different criminal gangs.

The report highlights how some of the gangs continue to operate even after ringleaders and key members have been arrested.

Among the groups active in Caracas are “El Wilmer,” which operates in the east of the city and whose leader was captured in 2012; “Los Kelvin,” which mainly operates at night and is still active despite five of their seven members being incarcerated.

According to the report, a group known as “El Penko,” which is known for hitting high-value targets, is also operating once again, despite four of its members being killed in a shootout with security forces in 2012.

“El Jairo,” which is also works in the east of the city and continues to operate despite its leader’s detention in 2013.

Police said the gangs had varying levels of experience and expertise and participated both in traditional kidnappings and in so-called “express kidnappings”, whereby victims are held while criminals clear out their bank accounts or rob personal property.

Kidnappings and “express kidnappings” have spiraled out of control in Caracas in recent years, while Venezuela has become one of the kidnapping capitals of the world.

Groups dedicated to the crime vary in their modus operandi, with some using contacts within banks to identify wealthy victims, while others target individuals based on their clothing or type of vehicle.

In 2013, El Nacional reported Caracas and the adjoining state of Miranda were the regions that most suffer from kidnappings in the country.

In response to the security crisis in Caracas, President Nicolas Maduro and predecessor Hugo Chavez have attempted to implement a variety of reforms, including dissolving the Caracas Metropolitan Policewhich were believed to be responsible for a large proportion of kidnappings.

Maduro recently announced the establishment of “peace zones,” where citizen security would be “guaranteed,” and the introduction of a new  system of community policing

El Nacional has reported that when they contacted police in 30 of the new police quadrants, only seven said they had attended a crime or received reports of a crime from citizens.

El Universal / ABC Flash Point Opposition News 2019.

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