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      Mexican drug cartels making big bucks stealing oil

      Stolen tanker trucks with stolen fuel in Veracruz // Mexican Army Photo

      Mexican drug cartels are turning to a new and lucrative source of income south of the border.

      Smuggling drugs is making up ever smaller percentage of their business.

      UTB Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera is talking about the latest trend is stealing oil and other petroleum products.

      They are diversifying to different activities such as extortion, kidnapping and very profitable business now is to steal oil and its derivatives including natural gas,

      The Mexican army released its latest figures on Friday morning regarding its fight to preserve Mexico's oil industry.

      Some 538,000 gallons of fuel have been seized since May in the State of Veracruz alone.

      According to AAA, the average American uses 550 gallons of gas per year.

      The stolen fuel represents enough gasoline to run 978 cars for one year's time.

      There's no way that this amount of resources can be stolen if the authorities and the worker there have not known what's been going on, Professor Correa-Cabrera said.

      Most of the fuel ends up sold on the black market in Mexico.

      The pirate gasoline and diesel is sold in plastic containers are sometimes from giant tanks in the pack of pickup trucks.

      The Mexican navy seized such a pickup truck in Matamoros back in March 2011.

      In states like Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, pipelines are tapped and tanker trucks are being stolen.

      Professor Correa-Cabrera told Action 4 News that some of the stolen fuel ends up sold to oil companies in Texas.

      Mexico TMs oil company PEMEX has filed lawsuits against American companies that bought the fuel.

      Federal prosecutors in the United States have also filed criminal charges in other incidents. This shows a big network of corruption which is binational, Professor Correa-Cabrera said. It not only includes Mexico but also the United States."

      It TMs not clear how Mexico TMs newly president Enrique Pea-Nieto will deal with the problem but the Mexican army has pledged to continue to do its part.

      Professor Correa-Cabrera said the solution will have to come from both the United States and Mexico working together.