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>> As Mexico contends with corruption scandals, a lagging economy, and a rising murder rate, fuel has become the root of some of Mexico's biggest problems, and the country's violent drug cartels are to blame. Reuters correspondent, Gabriel Stargardter, is in Mexico City.>> Fuel theft has become increasingly rampant.
Originally, it began with know-how from Pemex workers who worked with fuel pipelines and were aware of how to tap into them and extract fuel illegally or had contacts within refineries. But over the years, particularly in the last few years, that has changed. And more dedicated criminal networks have moved into the fuel theft racket, creating a tide of violence across Mexico as they burrow away at police forces, corrupt local politicians and state governments, and leave a trail of dead in their wake.
>> Here, in Salamanca, home to the second oldest state-run refinery, fuel theft is not just hurting Pemex, but is terrorizing the entire city.>>
> And gangs often extort refinery workers into providing crucial information.>> I spoke to a Pemex worker who had to leave the Salamanca refinery because he was targeted by fuel thieves, due to the information that he had in his job.
And obviously, this has unleashed a series of crimes.>>
He was in charge of pumping fuel through pipelines across Mexico, and as such, he had vital information for the fuel thieves. He could tell them when and where to tap a pipeline in order to extract fuel.>> That fuel worker eventually left Mexico and moved to Canada, after facing several death threats.
Mutilated corpses of refinery workers, police, and suspected fuel thieves are turning up more often around Salamanca. And more than 1,000 of Salamanca's businesses have closed down.