Rebellious crowds of townspeople in a rural area in central Mexico are defying police and soldiers to steal diesel from illegally tapped pipelines, creating what officials call an imminent threat of tragedies like fires that have burned dozens of people at other sites in Mexico.
The sight of a crowd of men, women and youths gathered around a huge pool of diesel with buckets in the central state of Tlaxcala exemplifies the trend in pipeline thefts, which rose 52 percent in 2015 to reach a rate of nearly 15 illegal taps per day across the country.
Alejandro Espejel, the spokesman for the city of Calpulalpan, said people in several villages have made a habit of either perforating pipelines or taking advantage of taps created by professional fuel thieves.
They have broken through security perimeters on almost two dozen occasions in the last year, built dams to create diesel containment ponds and hauled up fuel by the bucketful to sell. Espejel said the villagers have defied orders by police and security authorities to stop the practice. Read more