VERACRUZ, Mexico – A shootout Saturday between Mexican Federal Police and suspected members of a gang of fuel thieves in the eastern state of Veracruz left one man dead and another under arrest.
The clash occurred Saturday morning on the Acayucan-Sayula de Aleman federal highway in the southern part of the state, a region with a high incidence of fuel theft.
According to police sources, Federal Police agents originally detained two individuals who were transporting what was suspected to be stolen fuel in a tanker truck.
When the police were taking the detainees to the station in a patrol car they were attacked by an armed group that tried to rescue the suspected thieves, but the agents opened fire and drove them away.
During the shootout, one of those under arrest was hit with a bullet in the head and died on the spot.
Elements of different police units rushed to the scene and launched a search for the attackers, but never managed to find them.
Stealing fuel from state oil company Pemex’s pipelines has increased in recent years in a number of states, including Puebla, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Veracruz.
The huachicoleros – as the thieves who steal fuel to sell it later are called – offer gasoline at prices lower than 7 pesos per liter ($1.42 per gallon).
Last Wednesday, four soldiers and six civilians lost their lives in a clash with suspected huachicoleros in the town of Palmarito in the central Mexican state of Puebla.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto condemned the violence and ordered a comprehensive strategy to be drawn up in order to eradicate this crime from every corner of Mexico.