After last week’s confrontations between security forces and fuel thieves in Puebla, the leader of a local pipeline tapping gang has been forced to leave the town of Palmarito Tochapan, Quecholac.
Gustavo Martínez Jiménez, also known as El Vieja, is believed to operate a gasoline theft network in Palmarito for Roberto de los Santos de Jesús, known as El Bukanas.
De los Santos was employed as a municipal police officer in the neighboring state of Veracruz before relocating to Puebla and creating a network of fuel thieves, or huachicoleros, according to investigations by authorities.
Martínez Jiménez and de los Santos are presumably embroiled in a dispute with a rival gang led by Antonio Martínez, also known as El Toñín.
Martínez Jímenez was identified by residents of Palmarito as being responsible for the confrontation May 3 with federal forces, where six civilians and four soldiers died. As a result, neighbors forced Martínez Jiménez to leave town and threw stones at his house.
The alleged pipeline thief is known for his penchant for expensive vehicles. His garage has held a General Motors Hummer, a Ford Mustang and Explorer, a Chevrolet Camaro and Malibu, a Jeep Wrangler and a Honda vehicle since 2015.
Meanwhile, efforts are under way to contain and stop the increasing violence among gangs stealing fuel. The state of Puebla and the National Defense Secretariat have deployed a joint force of 3,000 soldiers and police officers.
State authorities reported that up until early May 149 illegal pipeline taps had been located and over 2 million liters of stolen fuel had been recovered, along with 1,123 vehicles used to transport it.
So far this year, 354 people have been arrested for their participation in the crime.
The government of Puebla is searching for Antonio Martínez, who they say is responsible for the May 3 confrontation.
Source: El Universal (sp)