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Greece arrests member of fuel-smuggling gang

Greek authorities said on Saturday March 30th that they had arrested a senior member of an international gang that had been smuggling Latin American fuel products for illegal sale around the world

Their profit has been estimated at more than $21bn, the Greek police said.

The arrested man is an Italian national for whom Interpol had issued an arrest warrant. Greek police found him in a southern Athens suburb on Friday, a police official told Reuters.

The warrant had ordered the man’s arrest and his extradition to Venezuela, where he will be tried for crimes that include the illegal transport and trade of resources of strategic importance, according to the Greek police official.

The gang are alleged to have stolen the fuel products, which were loaded onto its oil tankers from ports in Latin America. Transponders were then switched of to deceive shipping brokers, the Greek police said in a statement.

Given the size of the claimed profits, it is possible that this arrest is linked to Venezuela’s misfortunes when it tried to sidestep US sanctions via under-the-counter oil exports. Some oil was “sold” without a requirement for much cash upfront. The oil then vanished, and Venezuela never received any payment (IMN October 24th 2023).