Former Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio del Pino on September 22, 2017 (Photo by AFP)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:40 AM) – Two former bosses of the Venezuelan petroleum industry have been arrested by security forces on Thursday, according to official sources.

The two detainees are Nelson Martinez, ex-chief of state oil company PDVSA, and former Minister for Oil Eulogio del Pino. According to Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, the two high-ranking officials were arrested as part of a security operation in order to “to dismantle the cartel that has been hitting the oil industry.”

The attorney further stated that the operation is being carried out by the Military Counterintelligence Unit, and that in total 14 people are being investigated, some of whom are not living in the country at the moment.

“We hope they will be delivered to Venezuelan justice,” Saab said.

The arrests come a week after similar sanctions were taken against six executives of Citgo Petroleum Corp, the US-based subsidiary of PDVSA, who were arrested on suspicion of having accepted bribes of over $50 million.

The functions of both Martinez and del Pino are taken over by Manuel Quevedo, a staunch supporter of Maduro. Quevedo has defended the purge of the two former oil bosses, accusing them of planning an economical sabotage of the nation.

“This sabotage plan is aimed at achieving a repeat of 2002-03 when there was an attempted coup against Chavez,” Quevedo stated during an OPEC meeting in Vienna.

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Historian specialized in Arab history, Islamic studies and geopolitical analysis. Based in Belgium.

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