MEXICO CITY – The fight against the systematic theft of fuel in Mexico, which has led to a serious shortage of gasoline, is the first major crisis of the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who announced Monday that the monitoring of fuel pipelines will be intensified.
“In essence the supply is being regularized, the trend is that soon we will return to normal,” the president said during a press conference, thanking the 5,000 military and police personnel who work to safeguard the pipelines.
Lopez Obrador, who assumed his presidency on Dec. 1, also announced that “surveillance will be intensified” to completely eradicate fuel theft, the damage of which amounted to 65 billion pesos ($3.4 billion) annually.
The left-wing leader said that so far, they have managed to stop the sabotage against the main pipeline that runs between Tuxpan, on the Gulf of Mexico, where most of the fuel comes into the country, and Azcapotzalco, a district of the Mexican capital.
In addition, the Mexican government reported on Monday that it is investigating the involvement of public officials in the fuel theft, an activity that would have laundered some $10 billion pesos ($522.5 million).
The Secretariat of Finance reported that among those investigated are a former senior official of the state company Mexican Petroleum (Pemex), a former local deputy and a former municipal president who allegedly sold stolen fuel and acquired real estate to launder the money.
It was also reported that the bank accounts of 15 people related to the theft of fuel have been blocked.
To prevent fuel theft, the government implemented a change in Pemex’s supply mode, which involved closing pipelines and transporting the hydrocarbon by tanker trucks.
This modification has caused problems since more than a week in at least ten states and in Mexico City, as well as the closure of service stations and people queuing for several hours at gas stations.