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Fuel theft in Mexico has reached industrial scale

Monday, July 17, 2017


Fuel theft in Mexico used to be a few villagers drilling holes in pipelines and carrying away the gasoline in jugs. But the heavy arms and violence seen in Tuesday’s confrontation in Puebla state reflect its growth into a billion-dollar business that supplies not just the people selling gas on the sides of highways — called huachicoleros — but factories and gasoline station chains.

It has become an industrial-scale operation, involving a string of villages and hamlets along pipeline routes, not just in Puebla, but in Guanajuato, Veracruz, Tamaulipas and other Mexican states. The government says more than 6,000 illegal pipeline taps were found in 2016 and officials have been detecting an average of about 20 taps a day this year. It estimates fuel theft costs Mexico about $1 billion a year.

Source: Associated Press