The chief of the Mexico City Metro has blamed organized crime for the theft of over 14 kilometers of copper wire from the subway system in 2022.
Guillermo Calderón told a press conference Wednesday that approximately 14.5 kilometers of electrical cable weighing almost 33 tonnes was stolen from tracks last year. An additional 4 tonnes of wire was illegally removed in early January, he said.
The stolen cables were part of systems related to signaling and traction power supply, the Metro’s Twitter account posted on Wednesday.
Calderón dismissed the possibility that a single person was responsible for the crime, saying that it appeared that “an organized crime group” was to blame. The Mexico City Attorney General’s Office is investigating.
Calderón said that the theft of cables has primarily occurred on five lines – 2,3,5, A and B – that have aboveground sections.
Ricardo Jesús Morales Salazar, president of the governing board of the College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, said that the theft of cables from the Metro system entails more than just showing up with a handsaw and cutting them off.
“There is an organization … with sufficient people to take away 32 tonnes or more of the material,” he said.
Calderón said that the incidence of the crime has declined since the deployment of over 6,000 National Guard troops to the Metro in mid January. He also said that over 3,500 surveillance cameras are set to be installed across the system, which transports millions of passengers on a daily basis.
Mexico City authorities have suggested that recent “atypical” events on the Metro system, including the Jan. 7 accident and the uncoupling of two train cars on Jan. 15, were the result of sabotage.
The driver of a train involved in the crash was arrested on homicide charges this week after authorities determined he didn’t comply with a low-speed protocol that was in place.
The city government’s management of the public transport system has been questioned in light of the recent events — and a 2021 accident that claimed 26 lives — but Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum denies claims the system is underfunded.