In Zulia, a state located in northwestern Venezuela, farmers and agriculture producers, owners of farms for several generations, musted give away their lands, dragged by fear and threatening since drug traffickers started to rule in towns like Sur del Lago, Machiques and the La Sierra de Perija.
About this, no one wants to talk. Is the fear because even officers are involved with the Cartels that reveal the names of people who denounce drug traffickers.
There are straight threats: “I’m going to build the road. You like it or not.” Some farmers decide to abandon their lands, others, learned how to live with the enemy.
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Early Septembre 2019, the lawmaker Juan Pablo Guanipa, currently the first vice-president from National Assembly, declared that in Venezuela’s west, there are over 400 clandestine roads used as loading points from where Cartel’s trade drugs to Caribbean countries.
According to Guanipa, from Tachira and Zulia states come out drugs that Cartels move to other nations. He accuses Nicolas’s Maduro government allow these criminal actions that date from about 15 years ago.
Living with the enemy
“Farmers have been through this situation,” says an agriculture producer that choose anonymity. “We denounce, then we’re ended in jail, and we have to left farms behind for the threats”.
There’s a parallel danger: authorities and officers also threaten them with the jail. Farmers must pay to allow the construction of the roads in their lands. They live in a trap.
That’s why the fields from Sierra de Perija and Sur del Lago become in clandestine airports that drug traffickers use to move the drug from Colombia, through Zulia state to other destinies that include Nicaragua.
Gilmer Marquez, also a lawmaker from Zulia state, declares that these roads are real, and they know this dangerous situation. He says that officers from the National Armed Force lead this business that produces billionaire earnings. Officers allow drugs from Colombian Cartels into Venezuela as a bridge from where planes depart to other countries.
Fears, abuses, and detentions
In February 2017, Venezuelan authorities detect a plane from Guatemala, two pilots, a Guatemalan and a Mexican, were arrested next to another 12 people.
Cartels from Mexico also are involved in this scheme, according to the sources. In 2018, a military source revealed about the detention of a Mexican pilot in that zone.
There are more stories about it but farmers don´t want to talk even when they know the full names of drug traffickers. The fear of been killed is bigger than the justice they would receive.
An Armed Force member said there’s a lot of officers involved in this business. The fact that those pilots have the fuel to planes is the first sign. This type of fuel is in the custody from the National Guard.
According to the National Armed Force and the National Anti-Drug Office, in August 2019, fourteen clandestine roads were destroyed. Between September and October in that same year, another three drugs-roads were destroyed.
Despite this, farmers and producers are living with fears in their bones. If they deny the construction of news roads, drug traffickers- say they will kill them alongside their relatives.
This is an original investigation by the El Pitazo team. You can read the full research in Spanish by this link.