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López Obrador unveils plan to stop fuel theft in Mexico
Criminal gangs have for years used fuel theft as a way of supplementing their income, hurting Mexico’s refineries and bleeding money from state coffers - Photo: Berenice Fregoso/EL UNIVERSAL

López Obrador unveils plan to stop fuel theft in Mexico

27/12/2018
17:25
Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
Misael Zavala/EL UNIVERSAL & Reuters
-A +A
AMLO claimed that a criminal network operating in Pemex was responsible for 80% of the stolen fuel

Mexico’s government unveiled a plan on Thursday to step up use of the armed forces to combat fuel theft, vowing to root out corrupt officials it says are largely responsible for a problem that has cost the country billions of dollars.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told a regular news conference his government would fight the theft “outside and inside” state oil firm Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), saying authorities were complicit in the bulk of the crimes and that there was a criminal network operating within the oil company, responsible for 80% of the stolen fuel. Mexican authorities were able to arrest three suspects.

15 bodies of the federal government –including the Ministry of National Defense and the Navy- will participate in AMLO’s Joint Plan for the Protection of Pemex’s Strategic Facilities, which came into force on December 22, leading to an intervention in all of Pemex’s facilities, where federal authorities found that a group of people in charge of controlling the state company’s oil pipeline network were involved in fuel theft or “huachicoleo.”

“This is the theft of national assets, of public funds, of money that belongs to all Mexicans,” he said.

Criminal gangs have for years used fuel theft as a way of supplementing their income, hurting Mexico’s refineries and bleeding money from state coffers.

Speaking alongside the president, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said the security presence would be increased at key oil installations to better monitor distribution of fuel.
Security forces would also receive additional training for the task, Sandoval added.

Pemex’s new Chief Executive Officer Octavio Romero told the news conference more than 146 billion pesos ($7.40 billion) worth of fuel had been stolen in Mexico since 2016, with theft soaring to new heights this year.

Questioned about whether the Pemex workers’ union had been involved in the theft of fuel, López Obrador said there had been reports that the union had been restricting access to parts of the company’s operations.

That issue has been addressed with the union’s leaders and access will not be restricted in the future, he said.

President López Obrador also announced a new service number through which Mexican citizens will be able to report fuel theft activities: 01-800-228-9660.
 

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