Mexico City - Federal police found 18 tons of explosives that had been stolen hours earlier in northern Mexico, the federal Public Safety Secretariat said.
The industrial-use explosives were stolen by a group of unknown assailants from a tractor-trailer on a highway near the border between the states of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, prompting federal police and army soldiers to launch an operation to relocate the material.
The shipment was later recovered on a highway leading to the industrial city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon’s capital.
Security forces across that region of the country, which borders the United States, had been put on alert after Friday’s theft.
The truck carrying the cargo had departed from the northwestern state of Durango on Thursday afternoon but never arrived at its destination in the eastern state of Tamaulipas, Coahuila state Attorney General Jesus Torres said.
Mexico has been beset by drug-related violence in recent years, with roughly 17,000 killed in gangland mayhem nationwide as heavily armed cartels fight over supply routes.
Drug-related homicides have continued to rise despite President Felipe Calderon’s deployment of 50,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police to combat the narcotics mobs.
But other organized criminal activity from kidnapping to human smuggling to highway robbery of merchandise also poses a serious problem.
According to figures from the National Autotransport Cargo Chamber, or Canacar, robberies of cargo vehicles rose 40 percent in 2009 relative to the previous year.
Story of stolen explosives:
18 Tons of Explosives Stolen in Mexico
Monterrey – A trailer carrying 18 tons of industrial explosives was stolen Friday in northern Mexico, authorities said.
The robbery took place on the Monterrey-Saltillo highway, the Nuevo Leon state public safety secretary, Carlos Jauregi, told a press conference.
Mexican troops and federal police are searching for the stolen cargo and an alert has been declared throughout the Mexico-U.S. border region, he said.
The attorney general of the neighboring state of Coahuila, Jesus Torres, said the metal container in which the explosives were being transported was found empty at the 50-kilometer mark on the road linking Saltillo, Coahuila’s capital, and Monterrey.
The truck carrying the explosives left Thursday from Durango state bound for the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas.
Thefts from cargo trucks on Mexico’s highways increased 40 percent last year, according to figures from the Canacar industry association. EFE