“Road Pirates” are criminal organizations specialized in robbing merchandizes being transported by ground in order to obtain an economic benefit from selling those merchandizes in the black market. These organizations have a well-established logistics infrastructure in terms of weapons, vehicles and communication equipment. They usually carry out extensive intelligence actions in order to plan their operations thoroughly.
These criminals take advantage of road obstacles (batches, speed bumps, traffic lights, etc.) to jump truck drivers.
One of the most common MOs is intercepting their target on the road by moving a vehicle in front of the truck forcing it to slow down and stop. Then two or three subjects get out of the vehicle and force the truck driver to follow their instructions, then take over the truck and move the driver to the vehicle they used to hijack the truck or keep him inside the truck. In the best case scenario, road pirates neither harm the passengers nor kill the truck drivers, they only threat them with their guns and force them to follow their instructions. These criminals operate in groups of no less than three people, sometimes up to ten or twelve, depending on the cargo.
Logistics support elements
These gangs are thoroughly prepared for their crimes, using the following elements:
Weapons: They have good fire power, using long and short high-caliber weapons, such as: shotguns or similar guns, sub-machine guns, 9mm pistols, etc.
Mobility: They use two or more vehicles, sometimes accompanied by motorcycles, usually recent models. In some cases they also use SUVs to transport and provisionally store the stolen merchandizes until they are taken to the final storing location and then sold in the black market.
Communication: They use cell phones and walkie-talkies with UHF and VHF frequencies and, in many cases, they have police scanners they use to obtain information about units’ location and priorities.
Most popular cargoes
This kind of criminal activity focuses on goods that can be easily reinserted into the market, such as medication, cigarettes, home appliances and general electronics. These products are stored in clandestine warehouses or especially suited houses. Finally, the stolen merchandizes are reinserted into the market by unscrupulous tradesmen stimulated by a big profit.
Stolen articles are sold to customers at prices 30 or 40% lower than their actual retail prices, therefore resulting in fiscal loss, as no taxes are paid.
Some companies hire private security companies to protect their cargoes and, eventually there are armed confrontations and private security guards are submitted along with drivers. When escorts are successful at being inconspicuous, driving at prudential distances from the cargo, they’re usually instructed not to take action against the criminals but, at most, to try to follow the truck to find out its destination in order to coordinate the recovery with the competent authorities.
According to the data provided by the scientific, penal and Criminal Investigations Corps (CICPC), the top five states most affected by road pirates were: Carabobo, Zulia, the Metropolitan District, Miranda and Anzoátegui.
Central states are the most affected by this criminal activity, and roads and highways connecting with Caracas, such as the Caracas-La Guaira and Petare-Guarenas freeways are the riskiest zones. However, the stretch between Tazón (Central Region Freeway) and Carabobo-Yaracuy make up for 50% of the robberies occurred in a year.
According to CICPC statistics, over the last 12 years, the annual average of road robberies has reached 12,000 nationwide, that is, more than 3 per day.
In conclusion, road piracy is performed by criminal organizations with information about their target cargo and specific plans as to the site of execution, distributors and final consignees or intermediaries, at times aided by insiders. It is usually a non-violent crime in which intimidation is used as the main method to subdue victims.
- Avoid routines, change units’ routes and itineraries.
- Install monitored GPS devices and warn about their existence in each vehicle.
- Avoid carrying cash in cargo units, hire the services of an armored truck company for such purposes.
- Choose your warehouse staff, drivers and helpers carefully.
- If you decide to hire the services of a private security company to escort your cargo, contact a well-known company.
In this article, G4S Venezuela wanted to show facet of organized crime that every year generates great losses for companies that use national roads and highways to distribute their products.
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