Over 60,000 drivers use the Valencia-Puerto Cabello freeway each day exposed to risks such as becoming victims of a crime, due to the lack of police presence in the stretch, or suffering an accident due to the road’s deteriorated conditions.
The lack of surveillance throughout the 50-km stretch has been reported by particular, transportation and tow service drivers. Between the Barbula interchange (km 165 of Troncal 1) and Taborda interchange, at the exit of El Palito town, where at least 60,000 vehicles pass each day, according to a balance reported by the director of the Center for Research in Road Education and Safety (Ciesvial), there is only one National Guard (GN) checkpoint close to El Cambur. It operates 12 hours per day, from 6 am to 6 pm. Outside of those hours the area is left in darkness and exposed to crime.
The checkpoint was installed after a series of robberies to transportation units that stop at this place. The criminal group striking in the zone was known as “Los Buseteros”. Four of its members were arrested in June of 2013 by GN for mugging people in buses at Las Tablas bridge, Democracia Parish.
The road’s conditions favor the operations of at least three more criminal groups taking advantage of the bad lighting, lack of surveillance, tall weeds and poor road maintenance to commit crimes. Two of the gangs are identified as “Las Estrellas” and “Los Porteños”. They use the same modus operandi of hiding in the weeds waiting for buses to make their stops to intercept them at gunpoint. The criminals submit drivers and users of particular vehicles providing transportation services to distant areas of El Cambur such as El Churro, Pueblo Nuevo and La Pastora.
The gang “Los Rapiditos”, allegedly responsible for the murder of actress Monica Spears, her husband Thomas Berry and their daughter Maya, became publicly known in January. Six of its members were arrested by the Municipal Police of Puerto Cabello.