Fuel theft: success or failed strategy?

Investigation would always have to be the path to attack criminal phenomenons such as fuel theft

Fuel theft: success or failed strategy?
Fuel theft has increased exponentially in the last decade - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 17/02/2019 09:40 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:46
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Despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declaring that the war against fuel theft is over: “Fuel theft is over, there's no (fuel theft) upstairs or downstairs,” he said in Badiraguato, Sinaloa but the numbers from the last four years show that there has been an incomplete strategy against this crime. But the most concerning is that immediately after the announcement, the members of a cartel echoed the announcement and expressed their support to the new government and denied taking part in this crime, although the expansion of this crime in the Bajío area has been attributed to this cartel. Such messages were placed on vehicles that were allegedly used for criminal activities linked to fuel theft, as they had been reported as stolen and still had fuel containers inside.

Nevertheless, it hasn't been revealed how many people have been arrested for organized crimes and how many were detained for transporting fuel containers, driving tank trucks, or looking after warehouses full of stolen fuel. It's quite noticeable that in the numbers released by previous governments, only 1% are investigations where the internal Pemex structure is linked to fuel theft, a low percentage that goes against the general perception, as it is believed that the majority of fuel theft takes place inside Pemex; therefore, it is noteworthy that the emphasis is set on the lowest links in the chain and in low-profile detentions.

Meanwhile, only 229 have been arrested for fuel theft as organized crime, a minimal figure compared to the 14,000 arrests made for individual or circumstantial participation in fuel theft and it is surprising that half of them have been released in the last four years.

It is widely known that corruption or the commission of crimes won't end through decrees or declarations. Investigation would always have to be the path to attack criminal phenomenons such as fuel theft. In this case, detaining criminals in flagrante delicto helps very little because those who are arrested extracting fuel or those who store and sell it are just the visible part of the crime, which has branches in the business industry, as well as inside Pemex.

The official investigations would have to focus on these two branches. The numbers show a high inefficiency to diminish fuel theft. This government is acting in a different way, nevertheless, success won't be easily achieved if the investigation tasks are marginalized but they can't be disregarded.


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