In an unprecedented move the federal consumer protection agency (Profeco) requested support from the Federal Police to carry out an operation in Puebla this week that resulted in the closure of pumps at two gas stations.
Profeco said in a statement issued yesterday that it resorted to asking the security force’s National Gendarmerie for backup due to repeated refusals from two gas station owners to allow their pumps to undergo calibration checks, which are required twice annually.
At about 11:00am Tuesday, Profeco officials arrived at a British Petroleum (BP) station located in the Santa Cruz Los Ángeles neighborhood of the state capital where they closed five of 18 pumps.
Four of the pumps were closed due to fuel leaks while the fifth was shut down because of “clear defects,” the agency said.
Hours later, Profeco shut down all 20 pumps at a Pemex station in the La Libertad neighborhood of the city.
At that station, the agency said, none of the pumps was displaying valid calibration certification.
The statement also said that staff refused to grant access to Profeco officials to conduct inspections in other areas of the gas station despite the presence of the gendarmerie forces.
BP responded to the closure of its pumps by saying that it was working as quickly as possible to resolve the issues detected by authorities.
The company also said in a statement that its Santa Cruz Los Ángeles station would continue to operate as normal and reiterated its commitment “to providing quality service to Mexican consumers and complying with the obligation of selling fuel in the correct way.”
Profeco said in its statement that in accordance with reforms to federal consumer law promulgated by the current government, it has the power to apply measures in order to “coercively enforce its requirements or decisions,” which includes requesting the assistance of security forces.
Until this week the agency had never called for backup from police.
A report released in April said that 21 Pemex gas stations were closed in Puebla last year because they were selling stolen fuel, known colloquially as huachicol.
The central Mexican state, and in particular the region known as the Red Triangle, is a hotbed of petroleum theft from state-owned pipelines, a crime which the Pemex CEO said in April costs the company 30 billion pesos a year (US $1.5 billion).