Fuel theft costs the government $1 billion annually and has grown increasingly violent as authorities try to control it, reports “El Universal“.
Mexico’s spiraling violence reached new heights with 2,234 murders during the month of June 2017, the country’s deadliest month in at least 20 years, according to government data.
Killings rose in states ranging from the tourist haven of Baja California Sur to the Gulf coast state of Veracruz passing through Mexico City and even at famous resort of Cancun and Riviera Maya, long considered a relative oasis from drug gang violence. For the first six months of 2017, authorities nationwide recorded 12,155 homicide investigations, 31 percent more than the 9,300 during the same period last year.
On Friday July 21, the same day the report was released, a Mexican marine and four other people were killed when armed forces moved against the leader of the principal fuel-theft ring in the central state of Puebla.
Four of the dead were alleged members of “Los Bukanas,” a violent gang of “huachicoleros“, criminal groups that sell gasoline stolen through illegal taps from PEMEX oil company’s pipelines. It’s a business that has been estimated to cost the government $1 billion pesos a year and which has grown increasingly violent as authorities try to control it.
Also Friday, the top prosecutor in the western state of Jalisco, Eduardo Almaguer, said authorities discovered two drug cartel training camps where they believe about 40 people had been trapped and trained after being tricked by online job advertisements. An unknown number of human remains were also found.
“The victims were apparently lured by job offers for private security guards or municipal police and then were forced to build their own shelters from wood and branches and train in tactics and shooting, using paintball guns, while under guard by gang members”, Almaguer said. The investigation that led to the camps started with six similar reports of missing persons in June.
“They are recruiting good people who look for employment,” Almaguer said.
Those events underscore the growing struggles between or against organized crime groups from one end of the country to the other.
Murders remain high in states that have traditionally struggled with violence like Guerrero and the State of Mexico. But they have also increased significantly in states unaccustomed to such bloodshed, like Baja California Sur, home to the Los Cabos tourist resorts, the Pacific coast state of Colima and the state of Quintana Roo on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean.
The border state of Chihuahua, which had found some relief from the violence that peaked in 2010, is now facing a murder rate of about 55 percent more than the same period of time last year.
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