Pro-Maduro Troops Supply Weapons to Criminal Organizations

Missing weapons of the Venezuelan Armed Force help the “illegally armed colectivos” and terrorist groups.
Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo | 6 June 2019

Transnational Threats

A pro-government paramilitary group known as “colectivos” confronts a rally at the Supreme Court of Justice in Caracas in June 2017, to block a new constitution that grants plenipotentiary and irrevocable powers to the government of Maduro. (Photo: José Cohen, AFP)

More than 228,000 weapons and ammunition belonging to the National Bolivarian Armed Force (FANB, in Spanish) and the National Police Corps might be in the hands of Colombian terrorists on Venezuelan soil, as well as the paramilitary known as “illegally armed colectivos” that support the regime of Nicolás Maduro.

Javier Tarazona, director of the Venezuelan nongovernmental organization Fundación Redes, reported the information on April 23 and gave the Public Ministry of Venezuela a list containing the missing weapons and ammunition, including type and serial number. "High-ranking FANB officers told Fundación Redes that after receiving orders, superiors provided weapons to irregular groups, including the Colombian guerrilla National Liberation Army [or ELN]," Tarazona told Diálogo.

The missing weapons are mainly Russian-made. "Despite the embargo by the international community, the [Maduro] regime acquired more weapons than what it registered," Jorge Serrano, a scholar at the Center for Higher National Studies in Peru, told Diálogo.

‘Illegally armed colectivos,’ paramilitaries, and narcotrafficking

For Tarazona, the issue is alarming in a country with an average rate of 25,000 violent deaths annually, a war-like figure when there is no war.

A considerable number of weapons were sent to “illegally armed colectivos” and parapolice groups that defend Maduro. They’ve also reached the Cartel de los Soles, a group devoted to narcotrafficking, and prisoners that the regime releases to disperse opposition protests, Serrano said.

"Armed civilians are trying to subdue citizens, who only want to exercise their rights to protest in the country, and generate fear among them," Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó told the press. "This is one more fact that shows the Maduro regime is a threat not only to Venezuela, but also to the entire region, because irregular armed groups are operating throughout South America. Maduro made it clear that he won't skimp on resources to remain in power," Serrano said.

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