CARACAS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The Venezuelan government on Monday expanded its army-led Safe Homeland Plan to four more states.
Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez launched the security plan simultaneously to the states of Nueva Esparta and Amazonas in the east, and Apure and Portuguesa in the southwest, at an official event on Margarita Island, the country's leading Caribbean resort.
Almost 30,000 troops from the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) have been deployed to the four states, patrolling Venezuela's largest cities together with local police, the minister said.
The Safe Homeland strategy calls for the temporary deployment of military troops to high-crime urban centers.
The special plan was unveiled on May 13 by President Nicolas Maduro, who at the time announced the deployment of the first 3,000 troops to the country's capital Caracas.
The plan has been gradually extended to the rest of the country, with the focus on the 79 most populated cities, where 86 percent of the most serious crimes occur.
Last week, Rodriguez reported that Venezuela's new homeland security plan has helped cut crime by some 30 percent since its implementation in mid-May.
Thanks to the plan, authorities have rescued 29 people who had been abducted, arrested 971 suspects for homicide, 81 for kidnapping and 231 for theft, and confiscated 979 pieces of firearms and 6,286 pieces of ammunition, the minister said.
The plan also includes education and crime prevention measures within communities, such as anti-bullying campaigns and sex education classes at schools, among others.
Crime rate in Venezuela has been among Latin America's worst. The country also sees high rates of kidnappings and car theft, with 58 shooting homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012, according to official figures.
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