Some continue their careers in the United States

Economic crisis drives Venezuelan police officers to migrate

  • The immigrants' journey to America is fraught with danger. Archival

  • Low salaries have exacerbated the suffering of police officers. Archival


Police stations in Venezuela are experiencing unusual movement, and resignations, requests for leave and desertions have multiplied in recent months. After a brief recovery in 2022, the economic crisis has now worsened, prompting police officers to leave the country and, because of their training, may be in better physical condition than other migrants trying to cross the dangerous Darien, the jungle between Colombia and Panama.

In 2023 alone, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants tried to cross this forest, and one of those who succeeded was Omer Rincón, who worked in the Caracas police, and he began the journey in mid-July, and only last week he arrived in the United States via Arizona, and in that Rincón says: "I waited more than a month for my superiors to approve my leave, I sold my motorcycle, withdrew my savings and came."

Rincon brought canned goods, cakes and some clothes, boarded boats, canoes and buses, walked rough roads at night, evaded immigration authorities in more complicated countries on the way north, and after arriving in Mexico's capital he scheduled an application for admission through the CBB One mobile app launched by the U.S. government earlier this year in an effort to control the massive flow of migrants that had piled up at the southern border.

Most of the money Rincón took with him was spent on transportation costs and smugglers' and guides' fare to guide him north, and after a long series of stops including Caracas, Medellín, the jungles of the Darien forest, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico City, Arizona, and finally New York; he will soon travel to Atlanta, where a job awaits him.

"Along the way I found six police colleagues waiting for their (immigration) appointments, some of them boarded the monster train (the freight train that passes through Mexico, which carries migrants irregularly to reach the border), and so far I am the only one who has already entered the United States, and I think I was lucky," says the former Venezuelan officer.

This group of Venezuelan migrants shares not only an official past, but also the motives for leaving, and after 15 years of service, "everything was going downhill, I left for myself and for my daughter," says Rincón, adding: "Political interference in police work has complicated matters, in addition to low salary and difficult conditions, and there is no logistics to practice the profession as a respected employee." Venezuelan police officers are often forced to buy necessities from informal markets, such as uniforms, shoes and even ammunition, when their salaries are only about $20 a month on average.

During one of the many police operations against the dangerous "Koki" gang in a neighborhood west of Caracas, a fragment from a grenade injured another migrant officer, who preferred not to identify himself during a call with the newspaper "El País", and the institution where he worked did not provide medical insurance, so he had to pay out of pocket to care for his wounds.

With a salary of less than $15 a month, he eventually left the country, and has been in the United States for 14 months after 11 years of service in various police stations across Venezuela, and in order to migrate across the Darien River during one of the most difficult seasons, as it took more than a week on foot to reach camps set up by humanitarian agencies.

• Police officers are often forced to buy necessities from informal markets, such as uniforms, shoes and even ammunition.

The institution where the police officer worked did not provide medical insurance, so he had to pay out of pocket.

• $20 per month average salary of a police officer in Venezuela.

Disability Cover

Through the digital society, the unnamed officer learned that in Indiana local authorities reportedly accept immigrants with law enforcement expertise to cover the deficit in local security forces, an option available to many former Venezuelan police officers to continue their career in America. "Now as I speak with you, I am talking to four other colleagues on their way here, and I will receive them in the United States," the officer says.