The market for gasoline and other fuels is now open to competition, but some gas stations in the state of Guanajuato operate within a closed market of their own by selling stolen fuel.
Reports that at least 50 stations were selling fuel supplied by huachicoleros, or fuel thieves, surfaced in October.
At the time, state Interior Secretary Gustavo Rodríguez Junquera asserted that at least that number of stations were under investigation.
This week, the head of the Federal Police in the state repeated the assertion.
Miguel Ángel Simental Rodríguez said more than 50 are under investigation by the federal attorney general (PGR) for selling huachicolero gasoline and diesel.
He said investigators have focused on the gas stations themselves and also on trucks carrying fuel on the state’s highways.
A recent report by the National Security Commission said that since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012, the Federal Police have secured a total of 52.5 million liters of stolen fuel.
It said the states of Guanajuato, Veracruz, Tamaulipas, México and Puebla recorded the highest number of cases of fuel theft.
Federal authorities have apprehended 3,593 people during that period for transporting, extracting or selling the stolen fuel, but it was not reported how many convictions resulted.
Penalties are up to 25 years in prison and fines up to 22 million pesos (almost US $1.2 million).