A Pemex truck drives past a pipeline theft in progress in a video shot earlier this year. A Pemex truck drives past a pipeline theft in progress in a video shot earlier this year.

Petroleum theft hard to stop because mayors, Pemex involved: energy secretary

Personnel inside the company are complicit with criminals

Stopping petroleum theft is difficult because mayors and Pemex are involved in the crime, Mexico’s energy secretary says.

Speaking during a visit to Guanajuato yesterday, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said that the “many roots” of the crime have made it “hard to eradicate,” explaining that “there are personnel inside the company [Pemex] who are complicit with criminals.”

He added that the federal government is currently implementing a new strategy to combat the scourge, which includes greater cooperation between the Secretariat of Finance (SHCP) and Pemex in the sharing of information as well as increased coordination between federal, state and municipal security authorities.

Petroleum theft, committed by gangs of thieves known as huachicoleros, costs Pemex 30 billion pesos (US $1.6 billion) a year, CEO Carlos Treviño said in April.

Elaborating on Coldwell’s remarks, Federal Police Commissioner Miguel Ángel Simental said that while complicity of mayors in the crime has been detected in Puebla, there is no evidence to suggest the same has happened in Guanajuato.

“There have been no cases here in which municipal officials were involved, and now with the change of strategy there will be improved investigations in coordination with Pemex, the federal Attorney General’s office and the federal taxation administration . . .” he said.

Earlier this week, the navy carried out an operation against pipeline fuel theft in Palmarito Tochapan, Puebla, to which residents responded by blocking the Mexico City-Puebla highway for more than six hours.

The mayor-elect of Quecholac, where Palmarito is located, is reportedly a person of interest to authorities in relation to the crime although he denies any involvement.

In August, Federal Police arrested the wife of the mayor of Venustiano Carranza, Puebla, on suspicion of petroleum theft.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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