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This system teaches you Spanish, the easy way - not the academic way. With only 138 words you will be speaking Spanish.

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The Best Vet in Mexicali!

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Mexican Auto Insurance

This company has been with us since 2008. They are the oldest and best established insurer for those of you travelling to Mexico.
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Carbonite

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We love Baja California, but Puebla?

Jim and I always like to write about all the things that are great about Mexico. However, as in most countries, not everything is great. We prefer those areas in Mexico which are contiguous with the western United States border—in short, northern Baja California. As Jim likes to say, “Boy am I glad we moved to Mexicali, where else can you rent a beautiful 4 bedroom house with a 3-car garage for 500 bucks a month!”

Mexicali is super, along with the Guadalupe Wine Valley in Baja California on Highway 3 between Tecate and Ensenada. The beaches from the U.S. border to Ensenada are as good as Malibu and at a small fraction of the price of traveling or living there.

Fuel thefts of gas by location

Fuel thefts of gas by location

However, farther south and deeper in to Mexico, the state of Puebla and other locations are suffering from the huachicolero effect: the people are not buying fuel from gas stations anymore and they are even abandoning their traditional farming activities. Sorry, but my job is to keep you informed.

People who engage in the illegal theft and sale of fuel (gasoline or diesel) and adulterated alcoholic beverages in Mexico are called huachicoleros.

The word “huachicolero” is derived from “huachicol,” which is an alcoholic beverage adulterated with cane alcohol and other compounds. This word is also used to name the stolen fuel which can be equally adulterated.

An estimated 10,000 illegal fuel outlets have appeared so far this year in Mexico. They are selling discounted fuel stolen from Pemex, the Mexican petroleum company’s pipelines and severely affecting sales at established gas stations.

These clandestine gas stations sell on the streets, in automotive shops, at tianguis [markets] and even have home delivery systems. The sales of established gas stations have dropped by 50% throughout Puebla, and in towns like Esperanza and San Martín Texmelucan, by up to 70%.

Gas stations in the Red Triangle region of the state—where much of the pipeline theft takes place, conducted by thieves known as huachicoleros—used to sell 10,000 liters of fuel a day but now those figures have dropped to between 2,000 and 3,000 liters. Consequently, legal filling stations are on the brink of shutting down because sales aren’t enough to pay for their expenses.

Pemex and Mexico are losing millions, gas stations are closing, as they are being threatened by the huachicoleros.

It is impossible for an established gas station to sell stolen fuel because their inventory data is connected to Pemex and the federal taxation administration, SAT, allowing for easy detection of any irregular delivery of fuel.

While established fuel vendors see their sales plummet, a report by Pemex says the sale and distribution of stolen fuel has become the main productive activity in various Puebla communities.

Sources within the state oil company told the newspaper Reforma they have identified not only communities but whole municipalities that have abandoned traditional farming and livestock breeding to steal fuel, tapping into the 131 kilometers of pipelines that traverse the state. Selling stolen gas is proving to be a far more profitable activity than farming.

At least 17 municipalities are experiencing an economic boom as a result. One is San Matías Tlalancaleca, where 14 communities are now engaged delivering stolen fuel instead of milk.

The activity does have its drawbacks, continued the Pemex sources: disputes over control of the black market for stolen fuel have generated confrontations among locals, culminating in murder, vehicle theft and vendettas.

After last week’s confrontations between security forces and fuel thieves in Puebla, the leader of a local pipeline tapping gang has been forced to leave the town of Palmarito Tochapan, Quecholac.

De los Santos was employed as a municipal police officer in the neighboring state of Veracruz before relocating to Puebla and creating a network of fuel thieves, or huachicoleros, according to investigations by authorities.

Gustavo Martínez Jiménez, also known as “El Vieja,” was identified by residents of Palmarito as being responsible for the confrontation on May 3, 2017 with federal forces, where six civilians and four soldiers died. As a result, neighbors forced Gustavo Martínez Jiménez to leave town even throwing stones at his home.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way to contain and stop the increasing violence among gangs stealing fuel. The state of Puebla and the National Defense Secretariat have deployed a joint force of 3,000 soldiers and police officers.

State authorities reported that up until early May of this year an astounding 149 illegal pipeline taps had been located and over 2 million liters of stolen fuel had been recovered, along with 1,123 vehicles used to transport it.

So far, this year, 354 people have been arrested for their participation in fuel thefts.

Tapping pipelines and stealing the fuel in Puebla’s Red Triangle region is controlled by the Zetas and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) crime cartels, according to Pemex and government officials.

According to Pemex sources quoted by the newspaper Reforma, small bands of huachicoleros have focused on communities in the municipalities of Tepeaca, Acatzingo, Quecholac, Palmar de Bravo and Acajete.

The Red Triangle sees such a high incidence of fuel theft because of the large number of gasoline pipelines crossing it from the Gulf of Mexico to the central states of Mexico.

A Pemex official said on condition of anonymity that most of the thieves are Zetas and the confrontations witnessed in recent months are part of a turf war for total control of the region and the stolen gasoline black market.

He said members of the Zetas and the CJNG train people living in the Red Triangle municipalities in pipeline tapping and fuel distribution.

One of the local leaders in pipeline theft is known only by his nickname, El Bukanas. A former construction worker and farmer, he now controls the activity in Palmar de Bravo and has been tied to instances of kidnapping and homicide.

After a massive crackdown by federal and state forces last March, El Bukanas is believed to have fled to the neighboring state of Veracruz.

As tourists, these are not the folks you want to mess with—or even buy your gas from. Jim and I want you all to stay safe.

June 27, 2017 Update:

Fourteen months after the creation of seven military units dedicated to safeguarding Mexico’s petroleum pipelines from theft there is no sign that they have made any difference.

In March of last year Petróleos Mexicanos either paid for or donated seven facilities at which National Defense and Navy officials were to be deployed, where their sole mission was to be the protection of the state oil company’s infrastructure.

The facilities were strategically located in the states of Puebla, Baja California, Sinaloa, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Veracruz.

The Puebla facility, for example, constantly monitors a Pemex storage and dispatch terminal, where officials can detect minute changes in the pipeline’s pressure caused by leaks or illegal taps, allowing them to respond immediately and investigate.

In spite of the increased surveillance, the number of illegal taps reported through 2016 and so far this year has continued to rise unabated.

Meanwhile, Puebla Governor José Antonio Gali Fayad has announced a second stage of the Zaragoza Shield security program, which has recovered 2.5 million liters of stolen fuel and resulted in the arrest of 450 people.Public Security Secretary Jesús Morales Rodríguez said 182 state and municipal police, 30 patrol cars and a helicopter have been assigned to the operation, which has a broad security mandate to combat home and vehicle robberies and muggings as well as pipeline theft.

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