Impunity and arms trafficking have made Venezuela one of the most unsafe countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Now, with reports of kidnappings, even diplomats are not safe. In late December, Mexico's ambassador and his wife were kidnapped and released after paying an undisclosed ransom.
The number of murders reached a record level in 2011, and authorities are struggling to cope.
Venezuela's government is forming a new 80,000-strong national police force to help states counter crime.
Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman reports from Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.