500 Mexican Military Police going after pipeline thieves in Puebla
Pipeline thieves target of 500 military police
Operation will concentrate on five municipalities in Red Triangle
Mexico News Daily | Saturday, March 18, 2017
A culture may have formed around the runaway tapping of petroleum pipelines in Puebla, but that not’s stopping security forces from mounting an offensive.
Governor Antonio Gali Fayad and Army Commander Raúl Gámez Segovia have announced the deployment of 500 military police and the launch of a program called Puebla Seguro, or Safe Puebla.
The security strategy will focus on five municipalities — Acajete, Tecamachalco, Acatzingo, Tepeaca, Quecholac and Palmar de Bravo, an area known as the Red Triangle region for the high incidence of pipeline theft by chupaductos, as the thieves are colloquially called, a term that translates literally as “duct-suckers.”
They are also known locally as huachicoleros and their activities have become so interwoven with the social fabric that popular songs and even saints have sprung up around them to form a unique culture called huachicultura.
But while it may be a culture it is also a crime.
Of the 6,848 illegal taps into Pemex pipelines reported last year throughout the country, close to one-quarter of them were in Puebla.
An important gasoline pipeline traverses the Red Triangle, and half of the pipeline taps in the state are reported in the municipalities of Tepeaca, Quecholac and Palmar de Bravo, with up to two instances of fuel theft occurring every day.
Governor Gali said he would not hesitate to call for the use of force when criminals attempt “to undermine our peace, integrity and our values.”
The governor said the Puebla Segura program will also address crimes with a high social and economic impact, including robberies of pedestrians and small businesses.
The federal-state security strategy is part of a broader response to the criminality surrounding pipeline tapping in Puebla. Last week, three officers belonging to the state Kidnapping and High-Impact Crime Prosecutor were themselves abducted and later killed, triggering an operation in which 87 people — including a mayor — were arrested.
The three officials were investigating a criminal gang linked to the Zetas cartel and dedicated to kidnapping, and believed to control pipeline theft in the region.