Fuel Theft Crisis Persists in Central Mexico as Nine Bodies Found Near Pipeline

(P&GJ) — Central Mexico authorities reported on Tuesday the discovery of nine men's bodies in vehicles near a fuel pipeline, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Although the circumstances surrounding the deaths are still being probed, there are signs suggesting a possible connection to fuel theft, according to AP. Mexico is grappling with criminal gangs involved in the illicit siphoning of gasoline, diesel, and natural gas from government pipelines.

Ángel Rangel Nieves, the police chief of San Juan del Rio city in the central state of Queretaro, told AP in a statement that the bodies were found in two vehicles near the pipeline north of Mexico City. These vehicles bore license plates from the neighboring state of Hidalgo, recognized as one of the epicenters of fuel theft.

Since assuming office in December 2018, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has prioritized combating fuel theft within his administration. Despite the deployment of thousands of troops to guard pipelines, the discovery of thousands of illegal taps persists each year.

In 2023, the nation recorded approximately 5,600 illegal taps, a decrease from the 7,000 identified in 2022 but still comparable to the levels observed at López Obrador's inauguration. The government has taken measures to curtail open sales of stolen fuel, leading to a temporary reduction in volume over the past few years. Stolen fuels are commonly sold alongside roads and occasionally through authorized gas stations.

Losses from stolen fuel at the state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, dwindled to around $275 million per year in 2019 and 2020. However, losses have surged since then, reaching over $1.1 billion in 2022. The illicit tapping of pipelines not only triggers violence among criminal factions but also poses a significant threat to local residents. In an attempt to garner support from the community, thieves sometimes deliberately leave taps open.

In January 2019, a devastating explosion occurred in Hidalgo state at a pipeline that had been illegally tapped, resulting in the tragic death of at least 134 people. The explosion took place in the town of Tlahuelilpan as residents gathered gasoline leaking from the tapped pipeline.

Related News


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}