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Venezuelan government authorities have been cracking down on the clandestine fuel market and criminal activities that have been rampant in the South American territory as a result of years of U.S. sanctions.
Venezuelan government authorities have been cracking down on the clandestine fuel market. Authorities recently confiscated more than 80 thousand liters of gasoline and seven tons of strategic materials that were stolen by criminal gangs for reselling in the black market.
Venezuelan Attorney General, Tarek Williams Saab, declared that out of the 439 people detained 326 have reived jail sentences, 96 precautionary measures, and 17 were released.
Tarek William Saab indicated that these arrests, as well as others, have been possible because citizens have made their complaints.
The Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) found a clandestine airstrip in the Los Caobos sector of the Jesús María Semprúm municipality in Zulia state, where they also located a neutralized twin-engine aircraft with 1,260 liters of jet fuel, which were contained in 18 containers with a capacity of 70 liters each.
The discovery was made by a mixed commission of the FANB after verifying information provided by the Integral Aerospace Defence Command (Codai). The case was handed over to the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Public Prosecutor's Office for legal proceedings.
Venezuela has declared war on fuel smuggling mafias and drug trafficking rings involving government officials.
"They might dress in red but inside they are rotten! They are not revolutionaries and they must be unmasked!" exclaimed President Maduro. https://t.co/7xYgOHD0bX
On the other hand, Saab pointed out that another of the criminal practices that have been discovered refers to the theft of fuel from pipelines that transport gasoline between different PDVSA facilities. In this regard, he indicated that on 20 January eight people were arrested for the theft of petrol from the main pipe in Barquisimeto, which supplies nine states, including Aragua, Apure, Barinas, Cojedes, Falcón, Guárico, Portuguesa, Lara, and Yaracuy.
The detainees were brought before the courts on charges of aggravated smuggling, improper handling of dangerous chemical substances, and criminal association, he said.
In addition, the attorney general announced that on 14 January, three people who were illegally trading 40,000 kilograms of copper in the state of Barinas were arrested for the crimes of illicit commercialization of strategic material and criminal conspiracy.
On the other hand, Saab reported that 287 prosecutors have been investigated to date, of which 249 have been prosecuted. Of these, 158 have been charged, 27 have been convicted, 14 are currently in custody, and 18 have arrest warrants.
Venezuela's anti-corruption drive has led to big arrests, including two mayors, two National Assembly (AN) deputies and a number of alleged accomplices.
The arrests were the result of anti-drug and fuel smuggling crackdowns.
Venezuela sits on some of the world's biggest oil reserves, yet there have been fuel shortages throughout the country for years due to U.S. sanctions. In recent years, severe scarcity prompted President Nicolas Maduro's government to impose rationing and dollar-based retail sales to curb queues at fuel stations which stretched for hours or days.