Inside the Zetas Cartel: Cocaine & Crude (Part 2)

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In Part 2 we tour Pemex’s fragile operations in the Burgos Basin, and sit down with a member of the infamous Los Zetas cartel.

Mexico’s notoriously violent drug cartels are diversifying. Besides trafficking narcotics, extorting businesses, and brutally murdering their rivals, cartels are now at work exploiting their country’s precious number one export: oil.

Every day as many as 10,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen from Mexico’s state-run oil company, Pemex, through precarious illegal taps, which are prone to deadly accidents. Pemex estimates that it loses $5 billion annually in stolen oil, some of which ends up being sold over the border in US gas stations. As police fight the thieves, and the cartels fight each other, the number of victims caught in the battle for the pipelines continues to climb.

VICE News sent Suroosh Alvi to Mexico to see the effects of cartel oil theft firsthand.

Part 1:

Follow Suroosh Alvi on Twitter: @SurooshAlvi

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