lineup for fuel Shortages: lineups for fuel have been common in several states.

Chief of state police arrested for fuel theft

Caught red-handed with another senior officer at a pipeline tap in Puebla

The director of the Puebla state police and another senior officer have been arrested after they were caught red-handed at the scene of a pipeline tap, along with 31 truckloads of stolen fuel.

Armed Forces personnel detained Marco Antonio Estrada López yesterday in San Felipe Tenextepec in the municipality of Tepeaca, 35 kilometers from the capital city.

Also arrested was the state police head of special operations, Tomás Méndez.

Authorities had acted on information provided by a suspect who had been arrested for fuel theft, and accused the two officers of being involved.

The head of the state police is no stranger to controversy, having been one of those responsible for a police operation in San Bernardino Chalchihuapan a year ago in which a 13-year-old boy was killed by gunfire.

In March, 300 police in Puebla were let go after they failed their evaluation tests.

The military was sent to Puebla a month ago to launch an operation to combat pipeline thefts that caused losses of 240 million pesos (US $15 million) in the Puebla-Tlaxcala region during the second half of 2014. Yesterday’s arrests were their first.

According to Pemex, Puebla is third among Mexican states for the number of illegal pipeline taps that have been discovered, and Tepeaca was the municipality with the highest incidence between 2011 and February of this year.

Last week the company said that on average 12 taps per day are being reported in the Minatitlán-Mexico City pipeline.

In the last four years, 7,270 taps have been found, resulting in 5,090 accusations of theft, 2,600 of those in the first three months of this year.

The federal Attorney General has detained 30 people in connection with pipeline thefts over the past year and a half and has recovered 1.1 million liters of fuel worth 84.5 million pesos. It has also seized 35 properties and 165 tanker trucks.

The thefts have led to some serious supply problems for Pemex and mobility problems for consumers, as gas stations in various states have had to ration fuel, if not close because their tanks were empty.

Source: Sin Embargo (sp)

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