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Mexican Cartels Stealing Oil From Mexico’s Pipelines

Stories like this continue to surface, which only reminds us of the growing threat the Mexican drug cartels have become for both Mexico and the U.S. The cartels are not only dealing with drugs, but expanding into other things, just like the American mob did in its hey day.

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By Steve Fainaru and William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service

MALTRATA, Mexico — Drug traffickers employing high-tech drills, miles of rubber hose and a fleet of stolen tanker trucks have siphoned more than $1 billion worth of oil from Mexico’s pipelines over the past two years, in a vast and audacious conspiracy that is bleeding the national treasury, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials and the state-run oil company.

Using sophisticated smuggling networks, the traffickers have transported a portion of the pilfered petroleum across the border to sell to U.S. companies, some of which knew that it was stolen, according to court documents and interviews with American officials involved in an expanding investigation of oil services firms in Texas.

The widespread theft of Mexico’s most vital national resource by criminal organizations represents a costly new front in President Felipe Calderón’s war against the drug cartels, and it shows how the traffickers are rapidly evolving from traditional narcotics smuggling to activities as diverse as oil theft, transport and sales.

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