January 26, 2018 / 2:57 AM / 8 months ago

Head of security at Mexican refinery shot dead

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The head of security at one of Mexico’s six state-run oil refineries was shot dead on Thursday, becoming the latest victim of violent crime that has seeped into the industry.

State prosecutors in the central state of Guanajuato said Tadeo Lineol Alfonzo was killed in the city of Salamanca, home to one of the refineries operated by state oil firm Pemex.

Drug cartels seeking to diversify income streams have preyed upon Salamanca and other refineries, making fuel theft one of Mexico’s most pressing security dilemmas, sapping more than $1 billion in revenue from state coffers annually.

Local media said that two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot Alfonzo in his car early on Thursday as he was taking two of his children to school. The prosecutors’ office said it is investigating the case to identify the culprits.

Workers at Mexican refineries are targeted by the criminal gangs, and sources familiar with the situation in Salamanca said Alfonzo had received threats before his death.

Several Pemex workers have been killed in the city in recent years.

Pemex condemned the killing in a statement, and the company’s chief executive officer Carlos Trevino expressed his condolences about the loss of Alfonzo.

This week Reuters published an investigation into fuel theft and the problems it is causing in Mexico, which has sought to increase foreign investment by opening up the long-closed oil and gas industry to private firms.

Guanajuato, a centre of industry in Latin America’s no. 2 economy, has recently suffered a substantial increase in murders, which hit a record high in Mexico in 2017.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Ana Isabel Martinez; Editing by Sandra Maler

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