Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab has announced that the state has dismantled a criminal organization that smuggled fuel from the states of Tachira and Zulia into Colombia Thursday.
In the security operation led by the country’s General Attorney’s Office and the General Direction of the Military’s Counterintelligence unit authorities were able to seize 19 trailers and twelve trucks used to smuggle the heavily subsidized fuel. They also found 70 containers with a capacity of hold 1,000 liters that were being used to store the fuel.
According to Saab during the raid, they found 772,000 liters of kerosene, gasoline, mineral oil, and oil petroleum.
The Venezuelan government estimated the value of the fuel at US$4 million. For the crime, the state prosecution has requested arrest warrants for four individuals who are presumably members of the organization. They are being accused of trafficking and trade of strategic resources, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Saab also announced they raided eight Venezuelan companies linked to the case, including Serquimteg, Ramirez Thiel Imports, F.P. Exports, and Multiservicios Masul.
“They will face all the weight of the law because Venezuela needs its fuel as it needs its food and medicines. We will not allow people disguised as businessmen to hurt our country,” Saab said in a press conference.
The raids were the result of a month-long investigation.
“It is a model case of others we are investigating,” Saab warned, urging Colombian authorities to do the same.
Venezuela has been strengthening their efforts to combat fuel smuggling into Colombia. In August, President Nicolas Maduro announced the decision to increase fuel prices in 41 municipalities near the Colombian border and apply a new form of payment to curtail smuggling.
According to Maduro, the country loses US$18 billion every year due to fuel smuggling to Colombia and the Caribbean.