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PEMEX lawsuit: U.S. oil companies purchased $300 million in stolen fuel from Mexican drug cartels

December 15, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
PEMEX lawsuit: U.S. oil companies purchased $300 million in stolen fuel from Mexican drug cartels

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Mexico’s PEMEX oil company sued lost a libel suit against 23 U.S.-based companies for their reported roles in the purchase of fuel that was stolen by drug cartels. The suit further exposed the extent to which the criminal groups profited.

The U.S. oil companies who reportedly purchased the illicit fuel are listed as BASF FINA, BASF, Bio NU Southwest, Murphy Energy Corporation, U.S. Petroleum Depot, Continental Fuel, and High Sierra Crude Oil.

Other lawsuits named other companies including F&M Transportation, Big Star Gathering, Joplin Energy, Saint James Oil, Superior Crude Gathering, TransMontaigne Partners, Plains All American Pipe Line, Western Refining Company, Conoco Phillips, and Plains Marketing.

In Mexico, PEMEX, a state-owned company, manages the drilling and refining of oil. Mexican criminal groups such as the Los Zetas and Gulf cartels have been using the robbery of fuel and additional byproducts to make a significant profit.

In border cities such as Matamoros or Reynosa, the Gulf Cartel has been drilling into oil pipelines to steal tractor trailers full of fuel. In other areas such as Piedras Negras, Coahuila, or Veracruz, Los Zetas have done used similar tactics.

Some of the fuel is traded on street corners to drivers who pay less than half of the price of Mexico’s gas. The exchanges have had fatal consequences for some cartel members who are killed in blazing crashes while trying to flee from military forces.

In 2009, authorities in Mexico collaborated on a joint investigation with their counterparts in the United States examining how substantial amounts of stolen oil goods were illegally smuggled into Texas.

Through the use of falsified importation documents and with the purported help of U.S. corporations, Mexican cartels managed to transport the fuel. As a result of the probe, the Mexican government was awarded over $2 million in restitution.

Pemex sued five companies in 2010 for their connection with the purchase of fuel and other oil products which were taken by cartel members.

The American businesses that were named in the suit were accused of having “profited from a scheme that started with siphoning off thousands of gallons of product, moving it through Rio Grande Valley ports of entry and gathering it at the Port of Brownsville before shipping it to buyers across the state,” according to The Monitor.

Recently, Mexico’s Animal Politico reported that Pemex filed lawsuits against 23 U.S. companies and was seeking to collect $300 million. Pemex lost most of the lawsuits and only won a total $71 million from five companies–who did not have the funds to pay the judgment.

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