HomeNewsBriefMexico Fuel Theft Worth $1 Bn in 2014
BRIEF

Mexico Fuel Theft Worth $1 Bn in 2014

GULF CARTEL / 29 SEP 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

The theft of fuel from Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex has risen by around 33 percent this year, turning into a billion-dollar source of income for organized crime -- a trade facilitated by corrupt employees. 

So far in 2014, Pemex has reported the existence of 2,481 illegal taps in pipelines, which represents an increase of a third compared to the same period in 2013, according to Animal Politico. The company recently estimated it had lost some 7.5 million barrels of fuel valued at more than $1 billion to theft this year. 

The Zetas and the Gulf Cartel are deeply involved in the trade, reported the Associated Press. Both cartels are important operators in Tamaulipas state, where Pemex reported more than a fifth of the breaches had been found. 

Authorities in Mexico believe the criminals involved in the trade are either relying on support from Pemex employees or have themselves infiltrated the company, according to the Associated Press.

"It would be impossible for this to be done without collaboration, without information on the timing and the oil flow levels," remarked a federal legislator who is drafting a law to increase penalties for oil theft. 

Evidence of criminal infiltration into Pemex was seen in the August arrest of a suspected Gulf Cartel leader in Tampico, Tamaulipas, who was allegedly involved in fuel theft and was carrying a false Pemex employee identification card at the time of his capture.

InSight Crime Analysis

Pemex's self-reported losses are significantly lower than figures reported from an outside investigation by VICE, which claimed the oil giant now loses $5 billion annually from fuel theft. This indicates the true scope of the trade may be difficult to get a handle on. What the numbers make clear, however, is that it is growing rapidly. 

This growth has been spurred partly by the movement of major actors with an international reach -- like the Zetas and Gulf Cartel -- into a trade traditionally controlled by smaller gangs. Those involved have also been developing sophisticated techniques, such as trafficking crude oil directly to US refineries.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Oil Theft

The idea that these cartels are also relying on support from Pemex employees is both highly plausible and troublesome. Pemex generates up to one third of Mexico's revenue, meaning that oil theft poses a significant economic threat to the country, in addition to the obvious security concerns. Zetas control of government territory in Mexico's key oil producing regions is already threatening to derail Mexican oil reforms aimed at pushing economic development, and if the cartel is counting on inside assistance, fuel theft will be harder to combat.

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

CACHIROS / 28 DEC 2020

A rush of drug plane traffic from South America, coupled with traffickers smuggling large cocaine shipments after coronavirus border restrictions…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 8 SEP 2021

Mexico remains the main international provider of marijuana for the United States, but this has greatly diminished since 2013, forcing…

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 FEB 2021

Mexico's tax authority has dismissed Ramón García Gibson, one of its highest-ranking officials, for “evident conflicts of interest” and his…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…