Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is expanding an anti-smuggling crackdown along the country’s border with Colombia and ordering the closure of a border crossing in the key economic state of Zulia.
As part of an announcement Monday night, Maduro declared a state of emergency in three cities in the state, which is home to Maracaibo, the country’s second-largest city.
In the past two weeks Maduro has closed six border crossings and deported more than 1,000 Colombian illegal immigrants he blames for fueling crime and smuggling contraband along Venezuela’s western border.
Another 12,000 Colombians, some of whom have lived in Venezuela for years, have fled the crackdown fearing reprisals.
Colombia’s government has denounced the action, which it says violates international law and is causing a humanitarian crisis.