HomeNewsBriefHonduras Oil Theft Sees Renewed Attention for Old Crime
BRIEF

Honduras Oil Theft Sees Renewed Attention for Old Crime

CONTRABAND / 21 FEB 2019 BY CAMILO CARRANZA EN

Oil theft in Honduras has been a reliable source of income for gangs for years, but the recovery of 50,000 liters of stolen fuel in the city of Puerto Cortés may lead authorities to finally crack down on this pursuit.

The special operations unit of the Honduras Attorney General’s Office has opened an investigation, following the seizure, valued at around $122,600.

Three years ago, a case had already been filed with Honduras’ Prosecutor Against Organized Crime, but it was never investigated. Now armed with new evidence, the special operations unit is renewing its attempts to curb a crime once thought to have been controlled by a few operators, but which has spiraled into lucrative revenue for gangs.

SEE ALSO: Oil Theft Coverage

Much of the oil theft in Puerto Cortés is focused along 8 Avenida, a vital road that connects the local oil refinery to the city’s main thoroughfares. During the trajectory, the thieves known as ‘lateros’, would ‘milk’ the trucks by extracting low amounts of fuel, even when the trucks were moving. They also stole bunker fuel, and other derivatives leaving the refinery.

The stolen fuel would then be stored in surrounding neighborhoods, such as Los Mangos and Campo Rojo, where the 50,000 liters were recovered.

Deputy Police Commissioner Marlon Miranda stated that while the police had been aware of the practice for years, a lack of complaints or charges by those impacted had made it challenging to prosecute anyone arrested in connection with oil theft.

And truck drivers are likely to be working in connection with these gangs, decreasing the chance of any complaints being made.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Mexico has been in the media spotlight of late for its ongoing crackdown against rampant oil theft, this Honduras case shows that criminal groups across Latin America continue to thrive from this source of illicit income.

While such theft has often been concentrated in large oil producers such as Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela, smaller Central American countries have increasingly fallen prey to this practice.

Oil theft is an incredibly difficult practice to eradicate, given the plethora of ways in which it can be carried out. In Costa Rica, millions of dollars in losses have been seen through illegal oil taps on pipelines.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profile

In Honduras, where security gains appear to be very tenuous, it is telling that oil thieves can simply drive trucks up to refineries and siphon off gasoline from tankers rolling out of the gates.

The announcement of an in-depth investigation into fuel theft and the involvement of prosecutors, police, and the military in this latest raid raise hopes the government will finally take real action.

And with gasoline prices having been increasing rapidly in early 2019 in Honduras, urgent action is needed for fear of the demand for illegal fuel also growing in turn.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 6 JUL 2021

A high court in Honduras has found one of the intellectual authors of the high-profile murder of renowned Indigenous activist…

COCAINE / 4 MAR 2021

Strategically located between Argentina and Uruguay, Rio Grande do Sul is a hub for contraband and drug smuggling.

COCAINE / 4 FEB 2021

Drug trafficking has been reconfigured in Guatemala. The large clans that traditionally dominated the business have broken up.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…