© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A gasoline truck is seen next to a line of cars in front of a gas station in Caracas.
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s attorney general said on Thursday that 10 officials from state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) were arrested for allegedly diverting and selling some 3 million liters (792,516 gallons) of fuel illegally as fuel attacks continue. Long lines at gas stations across the OPEC country due to gasoline and diesel shortages. Farmers, manufacturers and retailers earlier this week lobbied President Nicolás Maduro to accelerate a plan to resolve the diesel shortage, warning that a lack of fuel threatened crops and food transportation in the crisis-stricken country. “These criminals have tried to profit, I repeat in a criminal way, with fuel regardless of the damage it causes not only to society, but practically become allies, accomplices of those who have promoted the blockade and sanctions,” he added. Attorney General Tarek Saab said. Maduro has blamed the shortage on US sanctions, which are aimed at overthrowing him. Last year, Washington removed an exemption to sanctions that allowed Venezuela to export and receive diesel in return. Critics argue that problems at Venezuela’s refineries are the main cause of the fuel shortage. Saab said the group, which included senior personnel, was detained at a fuel filling plant in the northwestern state of Zulia for diverting 1.9 million liters of gasoline and another million of diesel. The diesel supply shortage started late last year. The country had already been suffering from a widespread gasoline shortage for months, putting pressure on the government to import fuel from Iran and slash state subsidies. Diesel is still distributed to truck drivers for free.