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The Venezuela Connection, part II

By Aleksander Boyd

London 11/09/06 | On 26 May this year Carolina Di Lucca was kidnapped while driving on her way to Santa Elena de Uairen, where she was to visit her father, Colonel Roberto Di Lucca. Travelling with her were her mother and a maid. Colonel Di Lucca -Chief of Theatre of Operations No. 5- was in charge of the outpost that monitors the Venezuela - Brazil border. Initially it was reported that the motive was to get a ransom of Bs.100 million and 5 kilos of pure gold.

The place where Carolina was assaulted and kidnapped is known as Piedra de la Virgen. Less than 100 kilometres in either direction of the road there are military garrisons, one in Fuerte Luepa and another in El Dorado, apart from various National Guard checkpoints.

Sources report that military operations in December 2005, in which Colonel Di Lucca was involved, led to the seizure of nearly 3 tons of cocaine. The consignment, originated in Colombia and thought to belong to one of Medellin’s cartels, led to the arrest of 14 intelligence officers from Venezuela’s Bureau of Criminalistic, Penal and Scientific Investigations (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas or CICPC).

Carolina, aged 23, had married a man by the name of Rafael López Álvarez –a.k.a. “Pijita.” This fellow, presumably in association with his brother José Alejandro López Álvarez –a.k.a. “Platanote”- was known to be involved in drug trafficking activities with Colombian cartels in civilian and military intelligence circles of Venezuela. Pijita, formerly a pilot for local airline RUTACA, had made a fortune quite rapidly. However that did not seem to bother Colonel Di Lucca a great deal, for he approved of his daughter's marriage.

As much as 1,5 tons from the December seizure suddenly disappeared from Venezuelan military warehouses. Independent investigations suggest that Carolina’s kidnap and subsequent assassination was merely a settling of accounts between Medellin’s drug cartels -via the proxy López Álvarez brothers- and Colonel Di Lucca. The basis for this hypothesis stems from a recording of Carolina -in which she desperately appealed to her father to pay his debt- that the Colombian kidnappers played via telephone to Colonel Di Lucca, before ultimately shooting her in the back of the head and ditching her body, in spite of having cashed in the requested ransom.

17 days after having been kidnapped Carolina’s body was found not far from Piedra de la Virgen. Investigations led to the arrest of 5 Colombian assassins, one of whom -Melanny Pineda Mujica- admitted that they were contracted to kidnap and kill Carolina.

The kidnapping and execution of the daughter of one of Venezuela’s anti-drug tsars underscore some particularly worrying elements. First of all it is quite obvious that not even high military officials of the Chavez regime can escape from narcotraffickers’ ‘justice.’ Secondly it evidences the level of penetration of the Colombian drug cartels in the institutional framework of Venezuela. To add insult to injury the legal team assembled to defend Carolina’s assassins is paid for by Platanote –former brother in law- and headed by Jorge Otaiza, brother of Eliezer Otaiza; former director of the political police (DISIP), the land institute (INTI) and currently member of the strategic command of MVR, Hugo Chavez’s political party. Neither Carolina’s former husband nor his brother –both accused to have masterminded the assassination- have been arrested despite being the prime suspects. To boot a small cell of foreign killers manage to evade a huge search and rescue operation deployed by the Venezuelan police forces and army until it was too late for the sparing of Carolina's life. Then there has been a complete blackout of information regarding this particular case in anglophone international media outlets. Searches in LexisNexis returned not even one result.

It has been argued for some time now that the Chavez regime does not collaborate with anti-terror and drug trafficking activities. This case comes to cement that contention.

Read also:

The Venezuela Connection

Puerto Rico seizes 2,2 tons cocaine consignment from Venezuela

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