Country Listing

Venezuela Table of Contents


Law Enforcement Agencies

Many different organizations carried out Venezuelan law enforcement in 1990. Including the paramilitary National Guard, there were four national-level police forces (see The Armed Forces of Cooperation (National Guard), this ch.). In addition, over 450 state and municipal police forces functioned throughout the country. Although state and municipal police normally operated independently, they could be mobilized under emergency conditions into a Unified Police Command.

The Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (Direccion de Seguridad e Inteligencia Policial--Disip) was a nonuniformed force of some 3,000 personnel under the Ministry of Interior. Disip's nationwide jurisdiction included the investigation of crimes involving subversion, narcotics, and arms smuggling. Disip's responsibilities include operations against terrorists and other potentially violent groups, including organized crime. Disip's director was appointed by the minister of interior. The organization maintained its headquarters in Caracas, with field offices in principal cities throughout the country.

The Technical and Judicial Police (Policia Tecnica y Judicial-- PTJ) was a component of the Ministry of Justice. It fielded over 3,000 plainclothes personnel in 1990. The PTJ handled most of the country's investigative police work; other police agencies passed on all cases requiring investigation to the PTJ. The president, on the advice of the minister of justice, appointed the organization's director, who was required to be a lawyer. Most PTJ personnel were assigned to its headquarters in Caracas. Numerous divisions and subdivisions throughout the country handled field work. New agents were required to have completed at least three years of secondary education and to undergo several months of training at the National Academy in Caracas before assuming their duties.

The Traffic Police was a force of about 2,000 under the Ministry of Transport and Communications. In addition to national traffic control, the Traffic Police were responsible for issuing and regulating drivers' licenses and for determining public transportation routes and services.

Venezuela's state, metropolitan, and municipal police forces totaled some 18,000 personnel. The largest such force was the Metropolitan Police Force of Caracas, with about 9,000 members. All local police forces received their funding through the Ministry of Interior but responded to state governors under normal conditions. The Metropolitan Police Force, which maintained a Police Academy in El Junquito near Caracas, were comparatively well trained. In contrast, other state and municipal forces fielded largely untrained personnel and suffered from deficiencies in communications, transportation, supplies, and facilities.

Data as of December 1990