A report on Monday of a strong odor of gasoline in a neighborhood in Ecatepec, México state, led authorities to a property where fuel has been stolen from a Pemex pipeline on an industrial level, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez said Thursday.
A second property in Ecatepec where the same pipeline had been tapped was subsequently located and the authorities believe there could be more in the same area.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday morning, Rodríguez said security forces had found 250 containers on the properties, each of which had the capacity to store 1,000 liters of fuel.
“Two properties with hundreds of gasoline containers in the municipality of Ecatepec, México state, which allows us to assume the activity of fuel theft on an industrial scale,” she said.
Members of the National Guard and soldiers are currently stationed outside both properties.
Pemex Logistics director Javier González Villar said the tapped pipeline was the Tuxpan-Azcapotzalco line, which runs between Veracruz and Mexico City.
The authorities believe that thieves had been extracting fuel from the pipeline on the Ecatepec properties for years. No estimate has yet been formulated as to how much fuel was stolen.
In addition to the containers, authorities found machinery and tools on the first property that were likely used in the fuel extraction process. No arrests have been reported.
Despite the strong smell of gasoline in the neighborhood of El Charco, there was no risk of an explosion and the evacuation of residents was not necessary, according to the federal government. The authorities cleaned up a gasoline spill that was determined to be the source of the odor.
The security minister said the discovery of the properties will help to reduce fuel theft, a crime that cost Mexico billions of pesos in recent years but which the current government claims to have virtually eliminated.
Rodríguez said theft has declined to an average of 3,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2021 from 4,600 bpd in 2020.
President López Obrador claimed in a speech on Tuesday that fuel theft had declined by 95% since he took office in late 2018.
Source: Milenio (sp)