Mexico’s state-owned pipelines continue to bleed fuel at record levels, according to a new report from the state oil company Pemex.
Criminal gangs made up of fuel thieves known as huachicoleros drilled 2,274 new illegal taps during January and February, 38% more than in the same two-month period of 2017.
The figure represents a 352% increase on the number of perforations detected just four years earlier in the first two months of 2014.
With 282 illegal taps detected in January and February this year, Hidalgo saw the highest prevalence of the crime followed by Guanajuato with 270, Puebla 246, México 211 and Veracruz 206.
Morelos recorded the biggest year over year increase among the 10 worst-affected states, registering a 207% increase on 2017 numbers to reach 92 taps.
Illegal taps in Sinaloa spiked by 200% to 204, while 117% more taps were detected in Hidalgo, ensuring that it took over from Guanajuato as the number-one target for fuel thieves.
In Puebla, there were 7.4% or 17 more pipeline taps compared to January and February 2017 but the state’s joint security task force said that its efforts to combat the crime have yielded results.
Last year, the Safe Puebla security coordination group carried out 2,002 operations in the state resulting in the seizure of 3,138 vehicles and the arrest of 781 people.
It also said that it disabled 1,334 illegal taps, recovered more than six million liters of stolen fuel and closed 21 Pemex gas stations.
A report by the news agency Reuters in January said that Mexico’s notorious drug cartels are increasingly moving into the lucrative fuel theft racket, which is estimated to cost the federal government more than US $1 billion annually in lost revenue.
Pemex CEO Carlos Alberto Treviño Medina said there should be zero tolerance for the crime of fuel theft “because stealing from Pemex is stealing from Mexico.”
Report summarizes activities in Puebla to combat pipeline theft
Mexico News Daily | Thursday, April 5, 2018
Pipeline fuel theft may still be on the rise, but so is the number of gas stations that have been closed for selling stolen fuel.
A report on activities to combat such thefts in Puebla revealed that 21 Pemex stations were ordered closed last year.
The report by the Safe Puebla security coordination group explained that 2,002 operations against huachicoleros, or fuel thieves, were carried out during 2017, resulting in 781 arrests, the seizure of 3,138 vehicles, the disabling of 1,138 illegal pipeline taps and the recovery of six million liters of stolen fuel.
The crackdown expanded its scope in April last year when monitoring of gas stations began in the state’s Red Triangle zone, comprised of the municipalities of Tepeaca, Acatzingo, Quecholac, Palmar de Bravo and Acajete.
The operations were carried out by a joint force of agents from the federal Attorney General’s office, the Secretariat of National Defense, the Secretariat of Finance and the Federal Police and resulted in the closure of the gas stations and the arrests of their operators.
Some of those arrested were mayors of the municipalities where the gas stations were located, including José Isaías Vázquez Reyes of Atzitzintla and Pablo Morales Ugalde of Palmar de Bravo.
Othón “El Cachetes” Muñoz Bravo owned four gas stations and was later identified as a regional huachicolero leader before his arrest last year.
Pemex CEO Carlos Alberto Treviño Medina said that “anyone who has knowledge of or buys or sells stolen fuel without reporting it is harming themselves and the entire population, because stealing from Pemex is stealing from Mexico.”
Effective this year, figures regarding stolen or recovered fuel as well as the location of pipeline taps and other related information is no longer being disclosed.
When the newspaper El Popular filed a freedom of information request with Pemex, it was informed that revealing such information represented a risk for security operations in the state.
Another concern of the oil company was that divulging figures on fuel theft could “scare away” domestic and foreign private investors as well as firms interested in forging strategic alliances with Pemex.
It also said that revealing areas where huachicoleros remain strong could put the public at risk “because the criminals could resort to violence.”
This is happening in the Red Triangle. Looks like Puebla AKA red Triangle is the worst in country for fuel theft. Now Mencho's lust to control this state make a lot more sense to me. Very lucrative territory.