Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Police Force (PNB) has extended operations to eight states throughout the country, as part of the deepening of government policies to tackle the country’s high crime rate.
On Saturday 924 PNB officers were deployed in the north-eastern Anzoategui state under the auspices of Mission Full Life Venezuela, a program launched by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in June to coordinate the expansion of the PNB and other crime prevention measures.
The PNB is an effort of the Chavez government to tackle crime and insecurity in Venezuela’s most violent areas through the implementation of a new policing model, with officers trained in prevention techniques, community engagement and respect for human rights.
8,611 officers have been incorporated into the force so far, which now has a presence in eight states in Venezuela. These include Miranda and Zulia, which are controlled by opposition-governors, and contain some of the most violent municipalities in the country.
The PNB’s expansion throughout the country is also aimed at meeting the United Nations recommendation of 3.6 police officers per 1,000 citizens, said PNB national director, Luis Fernandez, at a public PNB event on Sunday.
Luis Fernandez also confirmed yesterday that the Axes of Homicide Investigation, which bring together PNB officials, criminal investigation agents, and public attorney lawyers, are to be expanded to those states where the PNB operates.
The Homicide Investigation bodies specialise in scientific reconstruction of crime scenes and criminal investigation, in order to combat impunity of violent crime. Fernandez lauded the work of the bodies in Caracas as a success, which is why Nestor Reverol, the minister of justice and interior affairs, had authorised their expansion to the other states.
“The important thing is to replicate the results we’ve had in the city of Caracas in every region of the country,” he said.
In a recent interview Fernandez commented that “where the PNB has been deployed we’ve seen a reduction in crime,” and has previously reported crime reductions of up to 52% in areas were the PNB operates.
The PNB also destroyed 25 firearms yesterday seized by the force during criminal investigations as part of a public event to highlight the PNB policy of destroying any firearms seized, in complement with the government’s new anti-firearms initiatives. 460 guns have been seized by the PNB this year.
Fernandez reported on the PNB’s work in October, mentioning the arrest of 709 people, including 32 for homicide and 85 for violent robbery.
Meanwhile, the Bolivarian National Guard yesterday seized a truck carrying 1,400 kg of presumed cocaine, in the western state of Lara.
Venezuela is classified by the United Nations as a country free of production of illicit substances; however it is used as a trafficking route. Announcing yesterday’s seizure, interior affairs minister Reverol said that Lara state “has become a corridor for narco-trafficking and thus measures have been taken”.
According to the UN 2011 World Drug Report, Venezuela has one of the highest seizure rates of illicit substances in the world. Reverol reported that so far this year Venezuelan authorities have seized 36,672 kg of narcotics, in 6,317 operations that have resulted in the arrest of 8,166 people, including 188 foreign citizens.
“We’re going to continue intensifying the necessary struggle to continue strengthening all anti-drug actions. We are one of the few countries that has understood that tackling drug trafficking is multinational, multi-factored, and therefore should be done with an integral approach,” he told Venezuelan public television.