Mérida, 8th February 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan authorities have discovered 106 firearms and over 8,000 rounds of ammunition in Uribana prison, which was evicted last month after a deadly riot left 60 dead and over 120 wounded.
The riot took place on 25 January, when according to the government some prisoners resisted the Venezuelan National Guard from conducting a search of the facility and disarming inmates.
Speaking in a press conference yesterday, prisons minister Iris Valera said that the majority of prisoners in Uribana had been “victims of the violent circumstances of this prison”.
She further said that a criminal mafia had been operating from inside the prison and, in reference to the weapons stash, said, “These violent groups didn’t want to lose this booty with which they kept the immense majority of prisoners subjected”.
Fifty-three packets of cocaine and some marijuana were also seized by authorities.
After the National Guard re-gained control of the prison, inmates were transferred to other facilities. They will be able to return to Uribana in about two months, Valera confirmed, once works to renovate the prison are completed.
The prisons ministry is also to implement Plan Cayapa in Uribana, an initiative which seeks to address delays in the judicial system and tackle the backlog in prisoners’ cases pending for review. It is estimated that around 100 inmates will be released under the plan.
The Ministry of Penitentiary Affairs was established in 2011 by President Hugo Chavez to tackle the notorious problems in Venezuela’s prison system, which include poor conditions, delays in judicial processing, overcrowding and corruption.
One of the ministry’s policies is the inspection of prisons to disarm prisoners and re-gain state control over the country´s jails from prison mafias and corrupt officials. The intervention into Uribana, which tragically ended in violence, was the ministry’s 91st search since its creation, said Valera.