Deadly Oil Blast Highlights Mexican Crime

At least 73 people are killed, dozens of others are injured, in a massive explosion caused by a ruptured oil pipeline in central Mexico.  The victims were reportedly trying to scoop up the spilled fuel.

Pemex, Mexico’s state oil company, released a statement blaming the leak and explosion on “the manipulation of an illegal tap.”

Friday’s blast occurred in Tlahuelilpan – about 60-miles north of Mexico City.

The tragedy comes just weeks after newly-elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a crackdown on gangs that steal fuel through the illegal taps, which costs the industry about three-billion dollars a year.  Crowds often help the thieves by collecting the spilled fuel in containers ranging from buckets to plastic jugs to garbage cans. 

Last month, Lopez Obrador deployed more than three-thousand troops to guard pipelines and refineries, and to deter criminals from creating illegal taps.  But gangs are able to win the loyalty of local impoverished communities that exist near the above-ground pipelines.

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