Navy chief Ojeda presents findings of investigation at Tuesday's press conference. Navy chief Ojeda presents findings of investigation at a press conference.

Fuel import scam costing millions in unpaid taxes uncovered by navy

Hundreds of thousands of barrels of diesel went unaccounted for at Tuxpan, Veracruz

Admiral José Rafael Ojeda Durán announced on Monday that the navy has detected a tax-evasion scheme to import hundreds of thousands of barrels of diesel without paying a peso in tariffs at the port of Tuxpan, Veracruz.

He said that the amount of duties the company — which he did not name — avoided paying could be as high as 200 million pesos (US $7.9 million) per month.

The navy was asked to look into the situation in December by President López Obrador due to fiscal irregularities found during an operation to clean up the customs system.

“It was a huge theft, [with] extensive corruption in the ports. So it is important that the navy take control of security at the ports,” said Ojeda.

He explained that from October 2019 to February 2020 the company filled tanker trucks with diesel and drove them out of the port between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. without passing through security or customs. The investigations also tracked where the tanker trucks delivered the illegally imported fuel.

“Two or three boats arrived each month. Their cargo inventories said they were going to unload 50,000 liters of diesel, [but] they actually unloaded between 200,000 and 300,000 liters,” Ojeda said.

The navy is currently carrying out the customs operation in the ports of Manzanillo, Colima, and Altamira, Tamaulipas, and the results of those investigations will be announced in the coming days. The port at Progreso, Yucatán, is also the subject of a navy investigation.

The navy, Communications and Transport Ministry, tax service and Mexican customs, among other government agencies, are all on the operation’s coordinating committee, which organizes visits to maritime customs departments to observe their day-to-day operations.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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