The illegal tapping of fuel in Mexico is growing more and more violent. Several workers from Mexico’s state oil company Pemex who are in charge of guarding pipelines and closing illegal taps have been attacked by criminal groups looking to steal fuel.
According to Pemex’s Subdirectorate of Strategic Safeguarding , between the years 2017 and 2018 (the last two years of the previous presidential administration), 14 and 17 out of every 100 workers in charge of guarding pipelines were attacked by fuel thieves.
The number of workers who were physically attacked by criminal groups and fuel thieves grew from four in 2013 to 162 in 2018.
One year before, 207 Pemex workers–the highest number in five years–who were in charge of surveillance and monitoring, as well as closing illegal fuel taps in Pemex pipelines, were attacked in some way, though the company did not specify the severity of the injuries.
One of the main problems Pemex faces in the fight against fuel theft is that its staff is outnumbered by these criminal groups, who usually have better equipment and weapons.
In the first quarter of 2019, the number of workers in charge of guarding Pemex’s 17,000km pipeline network rose to 1,238. This means that Pemex only has one employee per every 13.7 kilometers of pipeline.
Only in the first two months of the present year, the state oil company reported that 23 workers had been attacked and had suffered injuries, mostly in the state of Tabasco.
In the past five years, 540 workers from the Subdirectorate of Strategic Safeguarding reported injuries.
Mexican authorities, including Pemex staff and members of the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) , as well as the Navy and Defense ministries are now concerned that the problem posed by illegal tapping of fuel in the country has not been solved, regardless of the fact that the overall volume of stolen fuel is declining, according to Pemex director Octavio Romero Oropeza .
During the first quarter of 2019, the number of illegal taps rose to 4,379, against the 3,691 that were reported in the same period last year. This represented an 18.6% increase in illegal taps, posing a larger risk for Pemex workers in charge of patrolling the pipelines.
Information delivered by the state oil company showed that the most violent entities for Pemex staff in 2018 were: Tabasco, with 42 attacks; Puebla, 21; Sinaloa, 18; Chiapas, 17; Tamaulipas, 16; Hidalgo, 12; Campeche, 10, and Veracruz, also 10.