Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Huachicoleo: 8 Criminal Groups Looting Pemex

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Vanguardia

Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel and the Gulf Cartel, among the 8 criminal groups that loot Pemex's fuel.  Cartels, communities and former employees, among those who steal it; study details the various mechanisms of subtraction.

In the theft of fuels, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is being seized by  drug cartels , specialized groups,  criminal gangs , communities settled in the vicinity of the pipelines, gasolineros, ie  owners of service stations, businessmen who buy  stolen fuel , employees, and ex workers of Pemex, as well as the authorities responsible for  public safety .

According to the company EnergeA, Energy Projects of  the Atalaya Group , which was contracted by the  Energy Regulatory Commission  (CRE) to prepare a study that would analyze the problem of physical security in hydrocarbon sector facilities, the  theft of fuels  involves at least eight active actors who are in check with Pemex.

The field research that was delivered to the CRE in May last year, cites information from  The Office of Foreign  Assets  Control of the US Department of the Treasury, which identified a network of gasolineros associated with Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, alias  "El Azul" , a leader of  the Sinaloa Cartel.

He argues that the members of that cartel are associated with the  extraction of gasoline  and diesel from the Culiacán-Topolobampo pipeline  . Mario Alejandro Aponte Gómez, alias  "El Bravo",  security chief of  "El Chapo" Guzmán , was, until his death in April 2016, in charge of the illegal removal of hydrocarbons in that entity.

They take over territories:

The stolen fuel is usually stored in private homes, grocery stores and in businesses where inputs are sold for agricultural activity.

In Altamira, Tamaulipas,  members of  the Gulf Cartel are associated with the illegal theft that takes place in the Madero-Cadereyta pipeline, although there are also local criminal gangs that carry out clandestine takeovers of the Pemex pipeline network .

The  Gulf Cartel  stores fuels in its narco-camps, while criminal gangs do so in private homes and close to federal roads. There is evidence of the sale of products to companies and factories in the informal sector, on roads, as well as in small towns.

In the Silao-Irapuato-Salamanca region, the  Jalisco New Generation Cartel , CJNG,  steals  fuels from the Salamanca-Guadalajara pipeline , while armed groups specialized in the theft of hydrocarbons carry out clandestine takeovers.

In this area there is a presumption that  Pemex workers collaborate in these criminal acts.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel uses haciendas and estates to store stolen fuel and is presumed to distribute it in service stations through extortion to gasolineros, ie service station owners, in tanks through which these armed groups sell the fuels in sheet metal workshops and in salvage yards located on roads throughout the state of Guanajuato.

In the Acajete-Tepeaca-Acatzingo-Quecholac-Palmar de Bravo region, in Puebla, Los Zetas are responsible for the theft of pipelines from Pemex, who are fighting with criminal gangs to control that market.

It has been detected that Los Zetas store the fuel in previously stolen water tankers.  Once these vehicles are dismantled, the tanks are buried to protect the fuel.

In this case, the cartel has chosen to establish reserved and specific places of sale, in which only the fuel can be purchased by invitation and by presenting a code. They also sell at home on request and always with the recommendation of a third party.

In the Reynosa-Río Bravo region, the Gulf Cartel removes fuels from the Petróleos Mexicanos pipeline network and steal tank trucks, not for the product they transport, but to obtain a vehicle in which they can store and move the stolen goods.

Investigations into the operation of this cartel in the area made it possible to identify that they export stolen crude to the United States, where it is refined, through cloned tank trucks that supply Texas companies.

Pemex has sued 23 US companies for buying hydrocarbons that were stolen, including: Big Star Gathering, F & M Transportation, Western Refining Company, Joplin Energy and Superior Crude Gathering, among others.

The Zetas are also present in the region of Huimanguillo-Cárdenas, Tabasco and Tala-Tlajomulco, Jalisco, which is the area of ​​influence of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel.

                                         Takes are up over 406% in the last year nationwide

Magnitude problem:

In the conclusions of the  Study to Analyze the Physical Security Problems in the Installations of the Hydrocarbons Sector and Issue Recommendations for the Recognition of Costs by Security Concept  that the CRE carries out in its Rate Review Processes -which had a cost of 5.1 million pesos-, EnergeA, Proyectos de Energía maintains that the theft of hydrocarbons is a complex phenomenon that is often simplified taking as an indicator only the number of clandestine connections, this implies the tendency to confuse these numbers with the magnitude of the problem, when they are really different things.

For this reason, the cartels are joined by other actors who were identified with fieldwork and interviews with actors from the industrial sector, both public and private, to corroborate the information.

There are the specialized groups, which have technical knowledge and tools to make clandestine take points. They work in armed cells that are responsible for segmented tasks: surveillance, drilling, custody and transfer of fuel in pipes or tanker trucks.

The criminal gangs are rudimentary groups that carry out hydrocarbon removal in an artisanal way in ducts with segmented, marros and chisels. Many of the spills and fires have been caused by lack of technical expertise. They usually transport the stolen product in plastic containers, mounted in vans, pick up beds and trailers.

Also participating are the communities located near the right-of-way of the pipelines, which upon detecting a fuel leak, take advantage of the occasion to steal the hydrocarbon with  buckets, cans or tubs. Their actions are not focused on deliberately infringing Pemex's infrastructure.

Employees and former employees collaborate:

The investigations also indicated the participation of employees and former employees of Pemex, who are the people who use or provide information on the operation, facilities, logistics and activities of the State productive enterprise, to allow or commit the crimes of fuel theft.

Another link in the so-called huachicoleo is the gasolineros that commercialize stolen fuel, adulterated or in quantities smaller than that registered in the measuring instruments.

There are also entrepreneurs, owners of private industries that buy stolen fuel for their production processes.

Finally, another sector involved are the public security authorities, those servers of the three levels of government that allow, perform or provide custody and protection to other actors, in the illegal extraction of hydrocarbons.


  1. I wonder who thought of stealing gas first.

    1. 5:23, los zetas


    2. Prolly some politico who didnt get any contributions from the gas industry. The politicos give the green light on all crimes that occur in Mexico. Bandits will try to get their hand in the cookie jar but that hand will get scolded.

    3. Yeah los Zetas for sure, when they split they didn’t have a stable route to move drugs from Central America to the US so they started extortion kidnapping and fuel taps as a way to make money

  2. Sounds like ol Azul never died. Good for him still grinding it out in Culiacan.

  3. Pemex is getting raped big time, and government is to enept to do anything.

  4. Pathetic. Cartels supposed to move drugs. They shld open gas stations. This is the problem when dumb ass sicarios with shit for brains take control of oc groups or oc cells. A stupid person that only is good at killing makes for shitty bosses. But in mexico all balls and no brains is the norm now. Pemex shld hire or build a private security force. And as far as the huachicoleros go. Just find them and shoot the fucking gas containers set em on fire. Its the stupidest criminal activity ever. You think anyone working for el mayo wld lower themselves to this level?

  5. Once the us builds oil wells in Mexico they better watch out. Covert operations

    1. Pancho why would U S of A, build Wells, it is on Mexican soil.????????????????

  6. I don't know much about stealing gas from a pipeline but I'm wondering if criminals use underground tunnel networks similar to drug smuggling to tap and store their gas. Could be just scratching the surface of what is a far bigger problem. I understand the dangers involved in working with flammable materials in an enclosed space, but where there's a will,there's a way.

  7. Wow everyone including the government is stealing fuel.

  8. EPN opened up mexican oil to foreign companies, AMLO says he will put an end to that, well AMLO is more likely going for a big challenge now. If he closes takes away the opportunities to rhose foreign companies that already have some sort of presence in Mexico, he will have alot of backlash in the international community, diplomatic ties will be broken. If he keeps those doors open and allow foreign companies to grow in Mexico then those companies will feel the impact of oil theft, and there will be pressure on him from other countries to do something about it or they will, they will provide their own security something the mexican governmemt will not be happy with. For someone who wants to reduce his countrys military, he should make it stronger instead, to fight these parasites that will cause him problems and make other world leaders punk him.

  9. The cheerleader know it alls swore up and down that Sinaloa would never stoop low enough to be gasoline thief’s...

  10. How do they tap the lines with out creating a spark?

    1. Well, weld a threaded nipple onto the pipe. Insert drill bit into drill motor, drill into fitting, while oiling and cooling the bit. As gas blows into your face, make sure you do not have a smoke in your mouth. Park some distance away from the spark plugs. After connecting your hose to the nipple, fill up and enjoy. Hope you come back soon :)

    2. Thanks for your reply.


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