The robbery of oil and gasoline—or huachicoleo, as it’s known in Mexico—has become an increasingly prominent issue in oil-producing countries around the world. In recent weeks, the matter has become a headlining topic in Mexico, where newly-inaugurated President Andrés Manuel López Obrador established controversial reforms to begin combating the crime networks that allow for fuel theft, causing widespread gasoline shortage throughout several states. In an incident related to fuel theft and this recent gasoline shortage, over 80 were killed on Friday, January 18 due to a pipeline explosion in the state of Hidalgo. In light of the President’s crackdown on fuel theft and this recent tragedy, it is imperative to understand what exactly huachicoleo is and why it’s such a big problem today.
A gas explosion became global news on Thursday January 29th when a routine delivery went devastatingly wrong, leveling a maternity hospital in west Mexico City, instantaneously killing three and injuring many more. Around 7 a.m. on Thursday, a hose burst on a truck supplying gas to the Cuajimalpa Maternal and Children’s Hospital. More than 100 people were inside at the time.1