REYNOSA, Tamaulipas — Mexican and U.S. authorities busted part of a complex, clandestine smuggling network that uses tractor trailers and fake documents to move large quantities of U.S. fuel into Mexico. The underground sales have long been a method used by drug cartels to finance their operations.
As part of an ongoing intelligence-based operation, Tamaulipas state authorities seized two tractor trailers with large tankers full of potentially stolen fuel as they were coming across the international bridge of Los Indios near Matamoros, Tamaulipas, immediately south of Harlingen. Information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Tamaulipas government revealed that two other tankers were caught by U.S. authorities as the drivers tried to flee from Mexican authorities across the international bridge.
The seizure was based on law enforcement intelligence that pointed to truck drivers providing bills of lading at international ports of entry. The drivers would claim their trailers were empty at the ports. Tamaulipas law enforcement officials suspect corrupt individuals in Mexican customs offices could be involved.
On the day of the seizure, Mexican law enforcement arrested two truck drivers after inspecting their documents and rigs at the international bridge. The false paperwork claimed that the tractor trailers were carrying chemical fertilizer. Mexican authorities contacted their U.S. counterparts to stop two other trucks that had turned around toward Texas. The two drivers arrested in Mexico are currently facing smuggling charges.
As Breitbart Texas has reported, Mexico’s Gulf Cartel and others like Los Zetas and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion established complex networks for the sale of stolen fuel as a way to diversify income streams. In the border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros, the Gulf Cartel tapped into fuel lines owned by Mexico’s government-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). The fuel is sold on street corners for quick cash and is moved into a complex, underground network where criminals are able to “launder” it. In one of the most recent cases, a border fuel station was selling cartel-owned fuel for years before authorities shut down operations.
As Breitbart Texas reported, close to 24 U.S. companies were called out in lawsuits and other legal actions in connection with the purchase of fuel stolen by cartels in Mexico.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at [email protected]