Venezuelan police crushed and chopped up nearly 2,000 shotguns and pistols in a Caracas city square on Wednesday, as the new interior minister relaunched a long-stalled gun control campaign in one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the event marked the renewal of efforts to disarm Venezuelans, through a combination of seizures and a voluntary program to swap guns for electrical goods.
Venezuela has the world’s second highest murder rate and the street gangs that plague its poor neighborhoods have become increasingly heavily armed in recent years, at a time when a deep recession has reduced resources available to police.
Gangs often get weapons from the police, either by stealing them or buying them from corrupt officers, experts say.
With inflation of 185 percent in 2015 and a currency collapse, police salaries have fallen far behind rising prices creating more incentives for corruption.
President Nicolas Maduro promoted Reverol this month, days after the United States accused the former anti-drugs tsar of taking bribes from cocaine traffickers.
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