There are seven Mexican municipalities, all located in the Valley of Mexico, where groups of thugs have found free land to steal without restraint, and with total impunity, LP gas from Petróleos Mexicanos pipelines, according to data from the Association Mexican Association of LP Gas Distributors (Amexgas).
This criminal activity has had an extraordinarily considerable growth, because in 2018, at the beginning of the current six-year term, there were only 222 clandestine seizures recorded nationwide, and until the first half of this year, the figure shot up to 3,000. 848.
The theft of LP gas, through holes made by organized crime in the branches of Petróleos Mexicanos, occurs in several states, mainly in the center of the country, where criminals do their thing with total impunity.
The entities where clandestine taps have been detected, according to the information held by the Mexican Association of LP Gas Distributors (Amexgas), whose executive president is Carlos Serrano Farrera, are: State of Mexico, Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Hidalgo.
In the Mexican territory, the municipalities where criminal groups illegally steal fuel and exercise absolute control are: Tezoyuca, Tepetlaoxtoc, Nextlalpan, Tonanitla, Polotitlán, Papalotla, Coyotepec and Chiautla.
Together, these municipalities in the Valley of Mexico accumulate more than 10% of the clandestine LP gas intakes nationwide, and until the first half of 2023, the number of “punctures” in Petróleos Mexicanos pipelines totaled 224 in the localities. of the State of Mexico.
In 2018, the number of “surgeries” carried out by organized crime to steal this fuel was 222; In 2019 it rose to 1,315; In 2020 they went to 2,071; in 2021 they increased to 2,402; In 2022 they grew to 2,503, and in the first half of 2023 the number shot up to 3,848, which represents an increase of 1,633%.
Information from the Mexican Association of LP Gas Distributors (Amexgas), of which LA PRENSA has a copy, reveals that in Veracruz there are 939 clandestine taps recorded; in Puebla, 469; in the State of Mexico, 224; in Tlaxcala, 194; in Oaxaca, 36, and in Hidalgo, 11.
The data warn that in the last six-year term, then headed by Enrique Peña Nieto, which began on December 1, 2012 and ended on November 30, 2018, the number of clandestine shots went from 71 to 222, which represented an increase from 212%
However, during the last federal administration, gasoline and diesel theft had significant increases, since in 2012, 1,635 clandestine seizures of hydrocarbons were recorded; In 2013 there were 2,612; in 2014, three thousand 635; in 2015, five thousand 252; in 2016, six thousand 873; in 2017, ten thousand 363, and in 2018, 14 thousand 956, which translates into an increase of 814%.
After the arrival of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the federal government, the theft of hydrocarbons, but not LP gas, began to decrease, since of the 14,956 clandestine taps detected in 2018, these dropped to 13,053 in 2019, and In 2020 they fell to 9,132, which was the period where a combat program against gasoline and diesel huachicol was carried out.
Why did LP Gas theft increase?
For the executive president of the Mexican Association of LP Gas Distributors (Amexgas), Carlos Serrano Farrera, among other reasons, the increase in the number of clandestine intakes of this fuel has to do with the lack of operations and combat actions against groups. criminals.
In statements to this media outlet, the representative of this sector said that “in February 2019 there was a very successful campaign, it was highly questioned because it caused gasoline supply problems, but it was effective in its results.”
He added that “a project was put in place that was very focused on eliminating gasoline theft, they bought pipes – instead of the pipeline they used pipes in certain sections – and they put up surveillance and went to attack the gas stations that were selling stolen fuel, they closed them and They fined them and put things in order.”
He stated that all this work was not and has not been done regarding the theft of LP gas. “There have not been any operations on LP gas, only on gasoline and diesel. The gangs (of criminals) said here it is more difficult and there it is easier. That’s what happened. In LP gas, a program has not been carried out as effective as in gasoline.”
And he added: “it was effective, it gave a result (the program to protect hydrocarbons), but in LP gas neither that nor anything else was done, and so right now we have the numbers we have, with the theft of 50 or 60 thousand tons monthly, a figure that is enough to supply a country like Ecuador.”
He said that on average the economic losses from this amount of stolen fuel amount to 15 billion pesos. He mentioned that the major problems that have occurred in the country do not add up to those amounts, so in a moderate calculation so far this six-year term the damages are 75 billion pesos, but the figure will surely be higher at the end of the year. sexennium.
Consumption of 700 thousand tons per month
According to Carlos Serrano Farrera, more than 100 million services (fuel supply) are carried out per day, and the consumption of LP gas amounts to 700 thousand tons per month throughout the country, of which Petróleos Mexicanos produces 35% (of where criminal groups “milk” the pipelines), and the other 65% is imported.
Of the imported fuel, the private initiative participates with almost half of that 65%. “Nowadays everything is imported from the US (Houston), where large quantities of the product are made that arrive at the docks with huge ships of up to 45 thousand tons. That is why it is so important to have maritime and land infrastructure to guarantee supply,” said executive president Amexgas.
“We need to have an import permit from the Ministry of Energy, which is valid for one to two years, demonstrating that we have the infrastructure, all justified with documents and compliance with extreme requirements,” he stated in relation to the large investment that must be made. make the sector to be able to operate, so the impact caused by criminal groups is of great impact for companies in the sector and for the country.
Gasoline vs LP Gas
Gasoline from the point of view in liters is more consumed than LP gas, said Serrano Ferrera. “There are a little more than 14 thousand gas stations in the country and there are 1,143 gas plants. There are 3,700 gas service stations. All this infrastructure is important. In your house you cannot be without gas, the same as running out of gasoline, that is why we are complementary products.”
However, he explained that the difference between the two fuels, among other aspects, lies in the mechanics to deliver the product. “All the 45 million cars in the country fill fuel at gas stations, doing the job yourself to go fill up and only one dispatcher takes care of it.”
He mentioned that in LP gas things are different, since the 100 million services a day, which represent around 27 million homes, and other consumption sites, such as hospitals and restaurants, among others, all in their location require a whole logistical work.
He explained that to bring LP gas, an investment in infrastructure and human resources is required. “A gas station can sell 100 thousand liters or 50 thousand liters a day with 10 people; In the case of gas, a plant needs 150 people, in addition to the delivery vehicles (pipes).”
He stressed that the level of effort and work, organization, logistics and operation and distribution cost is very high, but they are requirements of the product and, the most important thing is to provide each home and deliver LP gas on time and form, preserving what is most important: security.
The theft of LP gas, which has been increasing more and more, represents an illicit activity with serious economic consequences and a very high risk for the population, stated the leader of Amexgas, after warning that it is an unresolved problem.
“Year after year, month after month, we address this issue before federal and state authorities. We are not standing idly by, we have continuous communication and dialogue with authorities, in order to address this urgently,” he added.
He asserted that “the money that is lost (the 15 billion pesos on average) constitute resources that the government could well use in many ways, in social programs, but end up in the hands of criminals.”
He stressed that the most serious thing of all, and it has been insistently pointed out, is that “LP gas requires being managed with knowledge, with highly trained personnel, with facilities and delivery equipment, with maintenance and updating and non-compliance with safety standards.”
He warned that criminal groups do not have these regulations and put the population at risk and continue to seize more clandestine outlets. “We are at the end of the year and we are not aware that (the illicit activity) has stopped and it could have an economic impact of around 20 billion pesos (in recent months).”
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High risk crime
By tapping the Petróleos Mexicanos pipelines, criminals even put their lives and the lives of other people at risk, said Carlos Serrano Farrera, after explaining how an intervention of this nature is carried out.
“It is an intervention on the pipe that requires a lot of planning, with very professional engineers,” he said after narrating how he witnessed a legal Pemex operation. “They (the engineers) reduce the flow, I don’t know if they close it completely, but to a level that is optimal to avoid accidents; “The intervention immediately comes to the duct at the top, at that moment the valve enters and, then, they make a weld, making a connection to another intake to supply intakes from legal companies.”
He mentioned that there are very few people who are qualified to do such work in the country, and yet the advance of the criminals has been unstoppable. “It is an extremely sophisticated job, a high-risk process due to the possibility of it getting out of control, which is why extreme coordination is needed.”
He stated that criminals surely do it “cross country”, between the mountains and the trees, with a high risk of an accident occurring at any time. He indicated that the theft of LP gas “is a regrettable issue, which does not happen in any country in America, and is a pending issue, for the good of Mexico and the Mexicans it must be addressed.”
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