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updated: 7/30/2011 6:34 PM

Venezuela breaks up fuel smuggling ring, detains 9

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CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan authorities say they have broken up a gang that smuggled subsidized diesel fuel out of the country to be sold abroad at a hefty profit.

Deputy Justice Minister Nestor Reverol says a Panamanian-flagged boat was seized as it was about to load more than 150,000 liters (39,000 gallons) of fuel from a hidden underground storage site. He says nine people are under arrest, including a Colombian and eight Venezuelans.

Reverol says the storage site in Venezuela's western Falcon state could hold up to 1 million liters (more than 260,000 gallons).

Fuel is heavily subsidized in oil-producing Venezuela and smuggling to neighboring Colombia is a problem.