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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Ioan Grillo: The Incredible Plunder of Mexico's Black Gold

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: NYT
                                                           "And How to Prevent It "
              Mexican Soldiers Flying over the State of Guanajuato to fight illegal Pemex taps

By: Ioan Grillo

Mexico City:  In the first months of this year, the word “huachicolero” — once a rarely used term — has been on the lips of people all around the country. Car owners particularly have cursed it, but I’ve even heard schoolchildren shouting it. Etymologists debate the word’s origins and whether its root comes from a Mayan term for thief or a French word for watered-down paint. But today, it’s used almost solely to refer to people who steal gasoline, diesel and even some crude oil, usually directly from pipelines, so they can sell it. This has become an extremely lucrative illegal business in Mexico.

The term was brought to national attention by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has made a crackdown on these huachicoleros a cornerstone of his administration, which began in December. Soldiers have been securing pipelines, the police have raided the thieves’ mansions, and the authorities have recaptured tanks of stolen gasoline.

It’s been a messy operation. When Mr. López Obrador shut down some pipelines in January, to stop the huachicoleros stealing from them, it caused shortages of gasoline in swaths of the country. The fuel thieves have fought back against the police and soldiers, blocking roads with burning cars and ambushing convoys. In January, they hung a banner with a message threatening to kill innocent people if Mr. López Obrador didn’t end the offensive.
    The incredible fireball that killed more than 100 in the explosion of an illegal tap in Tlahuelilpan

But he continued the battle, and it is a battle worth fighting. Mexico’s oil is publicly owned, so when the fuel is looted on a grand scale, it robs the state of money. The government oil monopoly, Pemex, said the huachicoleros took fuel worth 140 billion pesos, or roughly $7.4 billion dollars, over three years. The huachicoleros also contribute to the lawlessness that has seen Mexico’s murder rate rise and rise, with a record 33,300 or so homicides last year. And it is a catastrophic public health risk. When a crowd filled cans from a tapped pipeline in the town of Tlahuelilpan in January, a fireball exploded, burning many alive, leaving others hospitalized and struggling for their lives. The death toll for that disaster reportedly is now well over 100.

                 The horrifying image of people being burned to death, although some survived

The rise of huachicoleros in the last decade illustrates how Mexico’s rule of law has been shattered. And with that, democracy in much of the country has been under assault, with city mayors being controlled or attacked by criminals; journalists harassed and murdered; and community activists targeted. Fuel-theft gangs are suspected in various crimes against journalists, including the reporter Daniel Blancas being held at gunpoint in January.

With some 700 similar taps detected across Mexico in 2010, I was amazed that the government was not clamping down. By 2018, the number had risen to over 14,000 in the course of the year. It is especially telling that this criminal growth happened under President Enrique Peña Nieto. One of his major reforms was to open Mexico’s oil sector to foreign private investment, a move that was praised by the financial press, and one that he said would be a motor for the nation’s growth. But at the same time, Mr. Peña Nieto ruled over an incredible plundering of Mexico’s black gold and had no solid plan or political will to try and stop it.


  1. It means an alcohlic

    1. Huachi-col; alcohol watered down big city drunks used to drink, sellers would double their money selling watered down product. later we had teporochos, they used soda with their alcohol they call it teporocha, the French had nothing to say about it, they have cognac and brandy, champagne and sidra... But they never knew water or that it was for benefit of take a shower.

  2. AMLO is applying the same tactic as former presidents. PAN militarized Drug War, now he is applying government force to a social problem. Huachicoleros exist because of Mexico's Oligarchy. AMLO may be from a new Party, but the infrastructure is the same

    1. Governors dedicated themselves to stealing huachicol in cahoots with PEMEX union leadership, they had a goal of bankrupting PEMEX to deliver it to their master puppeteers for peanuts, same they did to mining, farming, power generation, Telefonos de Mexico, and tourism industries, communications, they also want all of IMSS installations, university Budgets, along with public education funds and properties to privatize, and the post office, the post offices etc etc etc.
      Now they want privacy???

    2. The real huachicoleros steal the oil From PEMEX by the boatload and pipe line and tankers right from PEMEX installations, Deschamps got to be the Union leader without ever having seen a pipe wrench, these poor broke ass huachiceros will never steal from PEMEX in their whole lives what the politicos steal in one hour. Some steal just by giving away juicy contracts to Colombians, mossad, Spain or American Corporations who only work the money side....

  3. La cosa con los huachicoleros es que ya andan muy entrados. Para que los puedan parar no va ser tan fácil. La inspiración que han dado a cientos de personas no se contendrá fácilmente. El gobierno va tener sus buenas batallas tratando de parar todo esto. - Sol Prendido

    1. Yeah,
      perro que le da en comer huevo, anque le rompan el hocico

  4. 7.4 billion dollars 😯😯😯 That's some serious bread .Guess the government hates when people steal out the same cookie jar that their stealing out of.
    Hmmm 🤔🤔

  5. Suggest educating your people AMLO with the 10 commandments.
    Thou shalt not steal
    Thou shalt not kill


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