Piracy in Mexico, A Ticking Time Bomb
Communication equipment, diving equipment, tools, wiring, metal caps, navigation instruments, watches, cell phones, and even wallets, stolen by groups of pirates from oil platforms and ships that sail in the probe of Campeche, Dos Bocas, and Veracruz, are offered through the Internet, as well as in local markets and flea markets in the State of Mexico, Tabasco, Queretaro and Iztapalapa in Mexico City.
According to a federal government report, organized crime groups operating at sea -to which Organización Editorial Mexicana had access- pirates have increased their illegal activity in Mexican seas for several years now, forcing the federal government to entrust the control of the country’s seaports to the Navy.
Through intelligence work, the security cabinet detected that since 2017 assaults on national and foreign ships, as well as platforms and boats, is carried out by commands of 4 to 8 armed men who move in small boats with outboard motors, operating between the towns of Sanchez Magallanes and Dos Bocas Tabasco. On some occasions, they pose as fishermen to approach the platforms and boats.
In three years, there have been at least 351 recorded assaults by pirates of the sea. Their stolen goods are offered on the Internet, in the local informal market, and Tlalnepantla, State of Mexico, Comalcalco, Tabasco, Querétaro, and Iztapalapa, and Mexico City.
Between January and April this year, authorities learned of nine moorings at sea and five more attempts against shrimp boats, a guide ship, a ship supplier, and small boats at seven oil platforms.
In four cases, the workers on the platforms gave notice after the assault to the ministerial authority. The authorities responded to the piracy act up to 4 hours late.
In the robbery of the Sonora platform, the employees locked themselves in and activated the alarm in Akal “S.” During the robbery, 27 pieces of self-contained breathing apparatus were stolen.
On April 8, while sailing in Tabasco, personnel of the crane ship “Sapura 3500” had to take evasive maneuvers to prevent a criminal commando from boarding them. The most recent incident was reported on April 23, when sea pirates attacked the small boat “Gorda” in Tabasco, taking a loot of watches, mobile phones, and wallets.
In 2019, the maritime authority took reports of six robberies and ten attempted robberies, affecting 12 platforms and four ships. A year earlier, in 2018, 45 events (21 robberies and 24 attempts) were reported to vessels and platforms in the Campeche Sound.
In January 2019, pirates looted six Pemex platforms, so naval authorities indicate that offshore huachicoleros – who are involved in at least 20 percent of the 300 reports, according to Navy estimates – intercept oil tankers in Mexican waters, board them, then subject the crew and then steal the fuel with hoses connected to their vessel.
The areas identified with the highest rate of docking: Maritime-Northwest Region, where the Cantarell complex and the Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ) oilfields are located; as well as the Southwest Maritime Region, on the Tabasco Coast and Abkatún-Pol-Chuc (APC), which is located between Campeche and Tabasco, 132 kilometers from the Port of Dos Bocas.
Since March 2016, former President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed to Congress the transfer of the port captaincy of the Secretariat of Communications and Transport to the Navy, because of the increase in robberies in these areas.
It was until December 14 that the Chamber of Deputies approved reforms to the Organic Laws of Federal Public Administration, Navigation and Maritime Commerce and Ports, to establish that the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) would exercise national maritime authority.
The issue of militarization of ports was politicized so that on October 9 last year, the private maritime-port sector and related activities in Mexico rejected the initiative presented by a group of deputies from the Morena party to transfer functions of the General Coordination of Ports and Merchant Marine, of the SCT, to the military sphere of the Semar.
Despite the rejection of the merchant navy, last July from Colima, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reported that the federal government would retake control of customs in Manzanillo and all ports in the country, through elements of the secretariats of the Navy and National Defense.