A biker takes a breather waiting in line for fuel in Mexico City
Mexicans have endured a week of gas shortages as the government takes drastic action to combat narco fuel thieves.
Several states in the center of the country, including the capital Mexico City, have seen hundreds of petrol stations closed and long lines at those left open.
The government of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, has cut off the gas supply in a number of key pipelines transporting fuel from refineries.
The aim is take the fight to the “huachicoleros” as the fuel thieves are known. Many are affiliated with larger drug cartels, who for years have been tapping pipelines of the state oil company Pemex.
Fuel theft has become a highly lucrative business for organized crime in recent years as revenue from traditional sources such as marijuana and opium as declined.
Cars line up waiting for fuel in Mexico City
Pemex claims to have had $7.6 billion worth of fuel stolen since 2016, with an astonishing 12,581 taps detected on state-owned and private pipelines between January and October 2018 – compared to 8,664 in the same period the previous year.
AMLO’s policy has been to use trucks and rail cars, often with police escorts, rather than the pipelines to move fuel around the country.
But the strategy is proving less efficient in transporting gas, leaving Mexico City, México state, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Puebla and Morelos facing shortages.
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