Four people have been killed in the past few days while trying to steal electricity from Venezuela's national power company, Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta Dominguez said.
"We're up to four people who have died while accessing the national electric system without authorization," Motta Dominguez said in a press conference.
A young man was killed instantly by an electric shock on Tuesday in Bolivar, a state on the border with Colombia, the minister said.
"It's possible that we're talking about people who were manipulating the system, trying to erode it, damage, steal or sabotage ... these acts are following a pattern, they're not normal," Motta Dominguez said.
Suspected saboteurs "are using these people who have a need of some kind" and "are capable of doing anything for money," the electric energy minister said.
Officials on Wednesday plan to implement the next phase of the operation designed to deal with the "El Niño" weather phenomenon, a move aimed at generating 300 MW of hydroelectric power, Motta Dominguez said.
"El Niño" has forced officials to ration water and hydroelectric power.
"We're doing everything humanly possible to raise the water levels at El Guri (the country's largest dam) while we wait for rain, God willing," the minister said. EFE