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Be careful flying into S. Bolivar Venezuela

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Sources say a crime ring is at work in Caracas' Simon Bolivar International Airport, where foreign travelers are being targeted for kidnapping and robbery.

Analysis

Some corrupt Venezuelan immigration officials at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas are working with organized criminal gangs that target visitors arriving from the United States and other countries for kidnapping and robbery, according to Stratfor sources in Caracas.

Sources say the gangs work in teams of four: two inside men, an accomplice posing as a hotel courtesy driver in the main concourse and a fourth, armed member who climbs into the vehicle after it exits the airport security zone and holds the victim at gunpoint. The modus operandi of these gangs is simple yet sophisticated, and chillingly effective.

When they pass through immigration, all foreigners traveling on tourist or business visas are required to list the address where they will stay while in Venezuela. When a potential target is chosen -- usually someone traveling alone -- the corrupt immigration official gives the information to an accomplice inside the supposedly secure immigration area. That person then hand-carries it through customs to the main concourse, where it is handed off to the partner posing as a courtesy driver for the intended victim's hotel.

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