|Minister of the Interior and of Justice Jesse Chacon|
Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2005—President Hugo Chávez ordered the reorganization of Venezuela’s national secret police, the DISIP, yesterday. The DISIP (Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services) is a special police and intelligence force that Venezuelans have feared for decades because of its secretive nature and because it has often been involved in shady activity. The most recent incident involving the DISIP was the escape of a notorious drug trafficker, apparently with the help of high-ranking DISIP officers.
Chavez dismissed the current DISIP director, Miguel Rodriguez, and appointed Army Colonel Henry Rangel Silva, the former Director of the National Housing Council (Conavi), as the intelligence body’s new Director. Minister of the Interior and Justice, Jesse Chácon, announced early this morning that significant changes in the DISIP would be implemented.
Chácon said that the DISIP has been “profoundly” analyzed since 2001 because the DISIP has been taking over roles, such as investigating organized crime and street patrols, that are far removed from its actual duties. According to Chacon, “we will achieve the transformation of what is currently the DISIP into a body that is dedicated to its principal activity, which is the security of the state, which is to say, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence.” He said that the recent incident simply accelerated the reorganization that had been planned for a long time.
In addition to reducing personnel by half, from six thousand to three thousand people, the DISIP will no longer be involved in the fight against organized crime. The regional and investigative brigades will be eliminated in order to focus on counterintelligence missions. Also, the organization’s name will probably be changed to the National Intelligence Directorate (DNI).
The restructuring of the DISIP was accelerated by an internal crisis when Colombian drug dealer José María Corredor Ibagué, a.k.a. “El Boyaco,” bribed DISIP agents in the amount of “between one and two million dollars” to arrange his escape last Saturday. This is a rather high-profile case in which U.S. and Venezuelan anti-drug forces cooperated in achieving Corredor’s arrest seven months ago.
As a result of Corredor’s escape, Miguel Rodríguez, the former DISIP Director, was dismissed, along with DISIP Director of Investigations Jesús Arellano, two high-level inspectors, and a commissioner. Another nine agents of the Disip are being investigated for their complicity in the escape.According to Chacón, officials from other police forces such as Interpol and the Venezuelan National Guard are looking for the Colombian fugitive in Caracas and in border areas because it is believed that they still may be able to locate him on Venezuelan territory.