Mexico’s drug cartels, now hooked on fuel, cripple the country’s refineries

Mexico’s drug cartels, now hooked on fuel, cripple the country’s refineries
Across Mexico, violence driven by fuel theft terrifies locals. (Image: Reuters video screen grab)

[Ed. – What classification comes after sh*thole?]

Fuel theft is fast becoming one of Mexico’s most pressing economic and security dilemmas, sapping more than $1 billion in annual revenue from state coffers, terrorizing workers and deterring private investment in aging refineries that the government, following a 2014 energy reform, hoped instead would be thriving with foreign capital.

Because of government offensives that toppled narco kingpins in recent years, Mexico’s drug cartels have splintered and are eager for new sources of revenue. Now, their increasingly dominant role as fuel thieves pits two of the country’s biggest industries — narcotics and oil — against one another.

The cash-rich cartels, believed by the Mexican government to generate well over $21 billion each year, are an increasing threat to Pemex, which in 2016 reported revenue of about $52 billion and generates about a fifth of government income.

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“The business is more profitable than drug trafficking because it implies less risk,” said Georgina Trujillo, a ruling party congresswoman who heads the lower house energy commission. “You don’t have to risk crossing the border to look for a market,” she added. “We all consume gasoline. We don’t all consume drugs.”

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