Santa Elena, October 29th, 2015. (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan Attorney General’s office has accused a Health Ministry official of illegally diverting 531,000 medical supply items belonging to the public.
Two military sergeants, an accountant, and an Air Force lieutenant have also been indicted for their roles in the alleged crime.
Jose Gregorio Velasquez, an executive director of the Health Ministry, is believed to have authorized the removal of two truckloads of medicine and supplies from a warehouse in Aragua state on September 4th.
The Attorney General’s office launched the investigation after a caller alerted local authorities of a significant quantity of supplies mysteriously being handled by military officials.
Venezuela has experienced medicine shortages since early 2014, though the situation has intensified in the past 12 months.
Analysts point to import fraud, smuggling, and black market items to explain gaps in the pharmaceutical sector, as the subsidized costs of medicine has made it a target for illicit trade.
The situation is made more complex by the ties some government officials have to black market sales, as the case suggests.