The complexity of fuel theft

The first news that reported the “milking” of pipelines were published over a decade ago

The complexity of fuel theft
Poverty and the lack of opportunities plays an important role on fuel theft – Photo: Omar Contreras/EL UNIVERSAL
English 24/09/2018 08:59 Mexico City Newspaper Leader Actualizada 09:00

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The issue of fuel theft is nothing new. The first news that reported the “milking” of pipelines were published over a decade ago. The issue reached the point where it currently is, where the crime is similar to drug trafficking because of the value of the product, the violence it has generated, and because of the participation of several characters.

Today, EL UNIVERSAL is publishing an article that details the situation of the so-called “huachicolero”. The problem is not limited to issues regarding criminal bands.

In the conclusion of the investigation requested by the Energy Regulatory Commission, it's detailed how there are eight important factors in this crime, which have a relevant role in the continuity of this issue: drug cartels, specialized groups, criminal bands, communities, gas station owners, gas station workers, current and former PEMEX employees, businesspeople, and public security authorities.

Each of the groups mentioned is involved in fuel theft in different degrees. The crime has reached a complex dimension that can't be explained only by mentioning the clandestine fuel pumps. There are organized structures that work as links to complete the crime.

The “huachicoleo” can't be understood if you don't keep in mind that there are businesspeople and gas station owners willing to buy fuel from them, generally on their own will, but sometimes they are threatened to, authorities that also participate and even current or former PEMEX workers who give technical information to the criminals.

In several regions, the communities develop around the culture of fuel theft, as in other areas everything revolves around drug dealing.

The numbers published confirmed that the price to pay is high when the authorities don't act at the right time. In the “huachicoleo”, as well as in the drug business, violence and corruption have a great influence, and it seems like it can't be contained; on the contrary, everything indicates that it's diversifying, as LP gas extraction is becoming much more common.

Getting to this point didn't happen overnight. Nowadays, the problem has different faces and multiple arms. Years went by and this crime was ignored by those who were supposed to fight it. Now, the price is paid by the country.