Police seize an abandoned truck that was used to carry stolen gasoline in plastic tanks, near an illegal tap into a state-owned pipeline in the middle of a cornfield.
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The suspects weren't cartel traffickers loading a drug shipment, but gasoline thieves tapping a state-owned pipeline – a form of organized crime that is growing in Mexico and has led to a series of deadly encounters. Fuel theft in Mexico used to be a few villagers drilling holes in pipelines and carrying away the gasoline in jugs. As the stakes have risen, fuel theft has become a blood industry.In early July, nine people were killed, including five men whose bodies were burned, in a dispute between fuel thieves in the town of Huehuetlan in Puebla state. The illegal tap drilled into the pipeline would be covered over, but Francisco predicted the thieves would come back and uncover it, or just drill a similar one nearby.The battle against the fuel thieves has left a strange "huachicolero" landscape east of Mexico City.Fires from stolen fuel are common.After a gang-installed camera caught a scene of a soldier apparently executing a fuel thief in June sparking outrage, they now have a cellphone or video recorder rolling every time police, soldiers or security personnel approach.
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