CARACAS – The burned bodies of five men and a woman were found inside a vehicle in north-central Aragua state, according to the Venezuelan Public Ministry on Thursday.
“The Public Ministry commissioned Aragua prosecutor Leiba Morin... to direct the investigation into the deaths of six people, who were found burned in a Fiat sedan,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a communique.
The ministry said that the vehicle “was found by Aragua state police on the morning of Wednesday, April 15.”
According to information reported in the local press, the killings were allegedly committed by a criminal band and the victims belonged to a rival group.
One of the dead was identified as Carlos Amaricua Zapata, alias “Carlitos,” who headed the gang, some members of which died with him. The motive for the crime could be revenge for the death of another criminal, who was killed in 2011 along with six other people.
According to the AG’s Office, the Aragua police responded to a telephone tip about a burning vehicle that exploded minutes after officers arrived on the scene.
The national daily Ultimas Noticias reported that Carlitos’ band operated in Aragua and in the central state of Guarico “committing kidnappings, extortion and stealing motorcycles, according to police (information).”
The non-governmental Venezuelan Violence Observatory said that during 2014 the South American country registered 24,980 violent deaths, or 82 per 100,000 residents.
These figures make Venezuela the country with the second-highest homicide rate in the world, exceeded only by Honduras, with 104 killings per 100,000, according to studies presented by the World Health Organization.