Mexico’s state-owned pipelines continue to bleed fuel at record levels, according to a new report from the state oil company Pemex.
Criminal gangs made up of fuel thieves known as huachicoleros drilled 2,274 new illegal taps during January and February, 38% more than in the same two-month period of 2017.
The figure represents a 352% increase on the number of perforations detected just four years earlier in the first two months of 2014.
With 282 illegal taps detected in January and February this year, Hidalgo saw the highest prevalence of the crime followed by Guanajuato with 270, Puebla 246, México 211 and Veracruz 206.
Morelos recorded the biggest year over year increase among the 10 worst-affected states, registering a 207% increase on 2017 numbers to reach 92 taps.
Illegal taps in Sinaloa spiked by 200% to 204, while 117% more taps were detected in Hidalgo, ensuring that it took over from Guanajuato as the number-one target for fuel thieves.
In Puebla, there were 7.4% or 17 more pipeline taps compared to January and February 2017 but the state’s joint security task force said that its efforts to combat the crime have yielded results.
Last year, the Safe Puebla security coordination group carried out 2,002 operations in the state resulting in the seizure of 3,138 vehicles and the arrest of 781 people.
It also said that it disabled 1,334 illegal taps, recovered more than six million liters of stolen fuel and closed 21 Pemex gas stations.
A report by the news agency Reuters in January said that Mexico’s notorious drug cartels are increasingly moving into the lucrative fuel theft racket, which is estimated to cost the federal government more than US $1 billion annually in lost revenue.
Pemex CEO Carlos Alberto Treviño Medina said there should be zero tolerance for the crime of fuel theft “because stealing from Pemex is stealing from Mexico.”
Source: El Economista (sp)