The stolen camera of murdered Venezuelan beauty queen Monica Spear has helped identify her killers.
Jose Gregorio Sierralta, Commissioner of Police, said the camera was found at the home of one the people arrested for the highway murder of Spear and her ex-husband.
Sierralta said the camera led the police to a criminal band that preyed on motorists on the section of highway near Puerto Cabello, the country's main port.
Police revealed that Spear's camerabag was found in the possession of a woman believed to be involved with the gang that killed her.
The woman, identified as Eva "Guns" Mejias, is the only female among the seven arrested for the killings. Two minors believed to be involved in the crime have also been arrested. About four suspects are still on the loose, according to Sierralta.
"We have managed to apprehend and totally break up this dangerous gang," the Commissioner said.
The dangerous criminal band was led by "Fat Danilo", a 32-year-old bandit, who is under arrest. The police said at least eleven people took part in the crime.
The gang members were squatters in a building known as El Churro, from where they carried out their shadowy activities.
Local news channels reported that residents of El Cambur, a village near the building, testified that their lives were ruined by the band of criminals since they moved in to El Churro a few years ago.
After the gang moved in, they had converted the area into a "Red Zone", where they pounced upon innocent passersby.
"I have to take a different route home at night to avoid it", a resident told El Nacional.
"There are police and military patrols on the highway", said Mary Gonzalez, another resident of the area.
"But there is no phone signal, a lot of places to hide and although everyone knows where the gang is squatting no one has done anything about it", she added.
Spear and ex-husband Thomas Berry were travelling on the highway when a sharp object on the road punctured two of their car's tires. A tow truck arrived and was loading their car onto it, when the armed gang approached.
The couple locked themselves inside the car, but the gang fired through the windows, killing them and injuring their 5-year-old daughter Maya.
The crew of the tow truck were the only two witnesses, who fled from the scene leaving the stranded couple in the car. But they helped lead the police to the gang.
Violence on Venezuelan roads and highways have become increasingly common over the years. According to a non-profit organisation which monitors homicides in the country, about 25,000 citizens were murdered last year.
The high-profile killings prompted President Nicolas Maduro to discuss with mayors and governors ways to rein in crime.
Maduro was criticised for not being able to control the rapid surge in crime, but he apparently refused to shoulder any responsibility for the lax law-and-order situation in the country and suggested that the crime was in fact a planned murder, and not the usual robbery or street crimes plaguing the country.
'That assassination seems more like a contract killing,' he said. He did not elaborate or give any evidence to support the claim.
"It's terrible that this happened, and society has to react," Maduro said at a security meeting. "It is not time to faint, to throw in the towel, to let our guard down. To the contrary, it's time to react."
The head of Venezuelan national crime investigation agency said he believed robbery was the motive behind the brutal murders.
Mary Spear, the slain star's aunt, said she hoped the actress did not die in vain, and that her killing would shed light on a crucial cause in Venezuela that could potentially save thousands of lives in future.
"I ask Venezuelans to wake up because it was Monica a few days ago, but, how many people have died on highways in this country?" Spear said. "Monica had to die so that the whole world learns that we can't be out on the street because we're afraid", she added.