MEXICO CITY – A man died in Sinaloa, a state in northwestern Mexico, while filling a tanker truck with fuel stolen from a Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, pipeline, police said.
Moises Rodriguez burned to death on Friday in the explosion and subsequent fire, police said, adding that an AK-47 assault rifle was found near his body.
Rodriguez was apparently siphoning fuel from the Pemex pipeline when “the tanker truck exploded,” killing him and sending flames shooting into the air, police said.
The blast on the Topolobampo-Culiacan pipeline knocked out the power grid in Catime, a town near the city of Salvador Alvarado, Pemex said.
The fire was brought under control and Pemex officials temporarily shut down the pipeline to avoid further damage.
About 50 illegal taps have been found on pipelines in the state this year, making Sinaloa one of the regions most affected by this crime.
Theft of fuel from Pemex pipelines, known in Mexico as “milking,” is common, with both individuals and organized crime groups involved in the illegal activity.
At least 30 people died on Dec. 19 when a Pemex pipeline exploded after it was tapped illegally in the central state of Puebla.
More than 50 other people were injured in the explosion, which completely destroyed 32 houses and damaged 83 others.
Investigators suspect that thieves caused the accident as they illegally extracted fuel from the conduit at pumping station No. 7 in San Martin Texmelucan.