Mexico’s government confirmed the death of 66 people and dozens more injured following a fuel explosion in the state of Hidalgo. An attempt to illegally tap into a fuel line to steal gallons of fuel is currently listed as the cause of the explosion.
The explosion took place in the town of Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo, where hundreds of villagers gathered to illegally tap into a fuel line and fill plastic containers with stolen gasoline. The effort to tap the fuel lines comes as the people experienced a series of gas shortages due to the country’s effort to crack down on the widespread theft of fuel and oil products at the hands of drug cartels and organized crime groups.
— 24 HORAS (@diario24horas) January 19, 2019
Video recordings taken by locals soon after the explosion revealed the intensity of the raging fire as the victims screamed out for help.
According to information released by Mexico’s Public Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo, Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex noticed the lack of pressure in one of the pipelines in Hidalgo and a squad of Mexican army soldiers and federal police officers were dispatched to the scene to secure the area. The troops pulled back after a “massive arrival” of villagers.
La Fiscalía General de la República abrió ya la carpeta de investigación correspondiente. Preliminarmente informamos lo siguiente: La baja de presión en el ducto fue registrada a las 18:13 horas por el sistema de monitoreo de PEMEX, que procedió de inmediato a su cierre.
— Alfonso Durazo (@AlfonsoDurazo) January 19, 2019
The explosion took place shortly after the pullback.
The scene of the explosion is approximately 10 miles from an oil refinery in the city of Tula. It is considered to be a key fuel-theft region used by organized crime members to tap into fuel lines, law enforcement sources revealed to Breitbart News.
The explosion comes just days after villagers from another nearby town kidnapped and assaulted several Mexican soldiers to protect a cell of fuel thieves, Breitbart News reported. The kidnapping took place after authorities shot two members from a fuel-theft operation. One of the suspects died after being shot by police.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Aranda from the Cartel Chronicle’s project contributed to this report.