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Fuel theft broke record in 2017

Huachicoleros were in control of five kilometers out of every 10 kilometers of the pipelines operated by Pemex, even though they are being continuously monitored by Federal, State, and Municipal Forces
Joint operations between fiscal and security authorities failed to prevent record levels of fuel theft in 2017 - Photo: Ariel Ojeda/EL UNIVERSAL
07/02/2018
12:42
Tláloc Puga
Mexico City
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Joint operations between fiscal and security authorities failed to prevent record levels of fuel theft in 2017, as fuel thieves, popularly known as huachicoleros, broke record for illegal drilling to pipelines belonging to Mexican National Oil Company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Last year, Pemex reported that organized crime amassed 10,363 clandestine drillings, roughly 28 per day, representing a 51% increase compared to 2016 when 6,873 drillings were reported.

Such figures convey that huachicoleros were in control of five kilometers out of every 10 kilometers of the pipelines operated by Pemex, even though they are being continuously monitored by Federal, State and Municipal Forces, including both the Army and the Navy.

Pemex estimates that fuel theft represents at least MXN$ 20 billion in losses per year to the country, yet the oil company will intend to recover up to MXN$ 11 billion by 2025, according to its 2017-2021 Business Plan which involves a series of security strategies to prevent fuel theft.

Only four states in the country account for half of the clandestine drillings in 2017. Guanajuato topped the list with 1,852 drillings located in Irapuato, Silao, and León, followed by Puebla with 1,443, Tamaulipas with 1,100, and Hidalgo with 1,064.

It is worth noting that in Mexico City, 91 illegal drillings were identified, yetPemex did not report drillings in Baja California Sur, Campeche, Colima, Guerrero, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, and Zacatecas.

At the beginning of 2017, the Tax Administration Service (SAT), the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Attorney General (PGR), the Federal Attorney's Office of Consumer (Profeco), and Pemex launched a series of security operations against illicit fuel market, tax evasion, money laundering, and commercial fraud.

Those measures have led to the suspension of business activity in gas stations that allegedly presented irregularities in fuel commercialization, however, huachicoleros continue to wound both Pemex's pipelines and finances.

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