Mexico’s state-owned oil company has begun training and arming its security staff, a risky decision that could backfire.
Pemex’s Strategical Safeguard Sub-directorate (Subdirección de Salvaguarda Estratégica) — in charge of protecting the oil company’s installations and resources — was recently trained in how to shoot and react to armed attacks, as well as on the proper use of force to prevent the illegal drilling of pipelines, El Universal reported.
In addition, the National Defense Ministry, the Mexican Armed forces, and the state police have also received training on detecting oil tankers transporting stolen fuel and going after criminal networks involved in theft.
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The company said the decision to arm security staff is aimed at protecting workers and curtailing the lucrative fuel theft business. It comes after a Pemex security chief was killed at a refinery in Salamanca, a city in the state of Guanajuato, earlier this year.
InSight Crime Analysis
Pemex’s decision to confront fuel thieves with armed force won’t keep its worker any safer. On the contrary, it may even put them at greater risk. It also won’t halt the siphoning off of oil through illegal taps, which largely depends on corruption.
Cartels and gangs have recently terrorized oil workers to simply gain information about when fuel will be pumped and through which pipelines, Reuters reported.
These groups use violence to control their interests, and it’s no different with the windfall they currently receive from oil theft.
In October, Salamanca saw violent battles erupt between The Jalisco Cartel — New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNJ) and a group known as the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, leaving 57 dead. The confrontation was allegedly sparked amid federal security operations that included the inspection of all tankers exiting the refinery, reducing the amount of stolen oil coveted by the criminal groups, Mexico's Interior Minister Alfonso Navarette Prida said.
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But violence isn’t at the root of the oil theft business. Bribery and corruption largely make it possible. Pemex employees have told thieves when oil will pass through pipelines, and maps of pipelines have been handed to criminal groups. State officials and the federal police have also been accused of receiving payments to allow the illegal tapping of pipelines.