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Federal Police at the refinery in Salamanca. Federal Police at the refinery in Salamanca.

Pemex personnel at Guanajuato refinery under investigation for fuel theft

Both managers and lower-level staff probed in Salamanca

Pemex personnel who work at a refinery in Guanajuato are under investigation by federal authorities for fuel theft, the newspaper Reforma reported today.

The probe is looking at the conduct of both managers and lower-ranked employees at the state oil company’s Ingeniero Antonio M. Amor refinery in Salamanca.

Evidence to date points to the likelihood that staff members have manipulated measurement and verification systems to cover up their crime.

Fuel theft from the Salamanca refinery is common and according to the investigation’s preliminary findings, cases have increased over the past three months.

As part of the probe, the army, the National Gendarmerie and Pemex security personnel seized documentation and records from the facility in a recent raid.

“It was an ordered operation to verify the processes by which fuel is probably extracted illegally in the refinery and also to carry out intelligence work,” military sources told Reforma.

Recent cases of robbery involving Pemex personnel are consistent with information in reports prepared by the oil company’s former chief of security in Salamanca, Tadeo Lineol Alfonzo Rojas, who also compiled evidence that refinery systems had been tampered with.

He was murdered in January.

Apart from being responsible for overall security at the Salamanca refinery, Alfonzo was also in charge of protecting all state-owned pipelines in Guanajuato.

The number of illegal taps detected on Mexico’s pipelines increased 51% in 2017 and company CEO Carlos Treviño said last month that fuel theft costs Pemex 30 billion pesos (US $1.5 billion) a year.

Guanajuato was the worst affected state last year, with 1,852 taps, followed by Puebla and Tamaulipas. In the first three months of this year, 415 new illegal perforations were detected.

Violence in Guanajuato has spiked significantly this year, with National Public Security System (SNSP) statistics released this week showing that there were 1,004 homicides in the first quarter.

Many of the homicides are believed to be connected to the crime of petroleum theft including deaths resulting from confrontations between rival gangs of fuel thieves known as huachicoleros.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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