CARACAS, Venezuela, July 29 (UPI) -- Venezuela arrested 212 suspected criminals, some accused of rape and murder, in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Caracas as part of a continued nationwide security operation.
Of those arrested, six were wanted throughout Venezuela for crimes including murder, rape and robbery and three were arrested for drug trafficking, according to Venezuela's Ministry of Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace.
The arrests occurred on Monday at the Guillermo Garcia Ponce urban complex in Caracas' Montalban III development. Many of the suspects are still being identified. Twenty-six are Colombian citizens.
About 10 apartment buildings were seized by security officials during the operation, which carried on into Tuesday.
More than 1,000 personnel from Venezuela's various security agencies took part in the security operation, accompanied by six tanks.
Officials so far seized nearly a pound of cocaine and more than a pound of marijuana. Officials were also able to recover 21 apartments whose owners were previously evicted by gangs. Three vehicles and 31 motorcycles were also recovered, all of which are assumed were stolen.
"The soldiers entered and searched the apartments in search of criminal groups that plague the area. I agree with such actions, but they should have conducted this type of operation much sooner," Maria Gonzalez, a resident of the complex, told El Universal. "They let these criminal groups take force and now it will cost to dissolve these organizations dedicated to the distribution of drugs and theft."
The arrests are part of Venezuela's nationwide "Liberation of the People" security operation, in which hundreds of suspected criminals have been arrested.
The Venezuelan government's "determination to tackle these scourges" are "now accompanied by the entire community," Minister of Popular Power for Interior, Justice and Peace Gustavo González López said. "...Without your support we can not go in this action."
Venezuelan officials are attempting to tackle an economic and security crisis as the country has one of the highest levels of inflation in the world and is also one of the most dangerous. The country is also deeply divided politically, where the country's opposition accuses the government of massive corruption and inefficiency.
The official murder rate estimate in Venezuela was 39 murders per 1,000 people in 2013, but independent nonprofit groups argue the figure to be much higher.
Earlier this month, Venezuela arrested two former military members accused of drug trafficking, including one linked to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel wanted by both Interpol and the United States.