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On coup d'etat fears, army raids police to confiscate "weapons of war" leaving cops defenseless against criminals

By       Message Roy S. Carson       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes: Following an army raid on the Sucre (Caracas) municipality police headquarters, the local police force has been left without its usual complement of machine guns, rifles and other arms considered by the Armaments Directorate of the National Armed Forces (Darfa) to be "weapons of war."

The police department purge, took place in a top-secret move, Tuesday, during which army personnel sealed off Sucre Police HQ and went through all records of rapid-fire Austrian-manufactured Glock handguns and more held by individual police officers as well as hundreds of heavier weapons in the considerable police armory.

Army officers claim that the operation, which also hit other police forces across the nation, was in compliance with an order issued by the Ministry of Defense in 2003 headlining "Standards for the acquisition, registration and control of arms, ammunition, fixtures and equipment for public security organs and public security bodies to state police functions."

The 2003 order--which was drafted in response to the April 2002 coup d'etat against President Hugo Chavez Frias--stipulates that weapons that are deemed to be weapons of war, all specifically and uniquely to be used by the National Army, the National Guard and other security forces "to defend and safeguard the nation." Generally "weapons of war" are held to include "grenades, rifles, cutlasses, swords and guns."

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Polisucre is not the first Venezuelan police force to have had all its weapons seized from their armory ... the first was in 2004 with the Metropolitan Police was disarmed and, since then, there have been reviews of many security agencies to ensure only the use of weapons that are strictly approved by the State.

Government sources say the police arms purge comes in a heightened state of alert over the possibility of another attempted coup d'etat and/or assassination bid against the President in the run-up to November 23 local and regional elections.

Cynics, however, say that the now un-armed cops will have little or no power to combat the increased prevalence of violent crimes since it is already generally known that ordinary criminals as well as organized crime gangs in Venezuela are already supremely armed to the teeth and more than ready to use them with lethal effect.

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Roy S. Carson is veteran foreign correspondent (45+ years in the business) currently editor & publisher of VHeadline Venezuela reporting on news & views from and about Venezuela in South America -- available for interviews -- call Houston (more...)

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