MEXICO CITY – Four tanks containing 39,459 liters (10,425 gallons) of fuel stolen from state-owned oil giant Pemex were found in an industrial park in Puebla, a city in central Mexico, the Attorney General’s Office said.
The stolen fuel was discovered at the Parque Industrial Puebla 2000, the AG’s office said.
The fuel was “ready for sale,” the AG’s office said, adding that agents seized “different kinds of tools used to steal” fuel.
The seizure was made following the arrests of 11 people who belonged to a gang that stole fuel from Pemex oil and gasoline pipelines, the AG’s office said.
Pemex has the monopoly on petroleum exploration and production in Mexico.
Thefts of fuel from Pemex soared last year, with drug cartels and other organized crime groups increasingly perpetrating this crime with assistance from people who possess technical knowledge about how the state-owned company operates.
AG’s office agents worked with the Puebla state Public Safety Secretariat and Pemex to execute a search warrant issued by a federal judge.
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.
Pemex, according to official figures, is the world’s No. 4 producer of crude oil, has the 10th-largest reserves, is the 15th-largest gas producer, the 13th-largest refiner and the largest source of revenues for Mexico’s government, accounting for more than 30 percent of the Treasury’s income.
Pemex is being plundered by both insiders and criminal organizations that steal fuel and sell it on the black market, Ana Lilia Perez, author of “El Cartel Negro” (The Black Cartel), said in an interview last month.
“Drug trafficking organizations, mainly, including the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas, steal up to 40 percent of the natural gas condensates produced in the Burgos basin along Mexico’s entire northern border and sell it on the black market in the United States,” the journalist said.
Drug cartels are also stealing gasoline and other derivatives from Pemex pipelines in different states, focusing on Veracruz and Sinaloa, the writer said.
Official figures show that theft of fuel from Pemex pipelines generated losses of about 3 billion pesos (some $214 million) during the first four months of 2011, exceeding the losses posted in all of 2010, the author said.
No official reports covering Pemex’s total losses exist, but some estimates place the figure at some 16 billion pesos (about $1.14 billion), Perez said.