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The demand for illegal fuel has increased as gasoline prices in the country have risen sharply in 2019.
A special operations unit for the Honduran Attorney General’s office has opened an investigation following the seizure of 50,000 liters of stolen fuel valued at around US$122,600 which was recovered in Puerto Cortes, Honduras.
Three years ago, a case had already been filed with Honduras’ Prosecutor Against Organized Crime, however, an investigation was never initiated. Now as new evidence has surfaced, the special operations unit is renewing attempts to contain a crime that has spiraled into lucrative revenue for gangs, Insight Crime reported.
Oil theft in the city on the north Caribbean coast of Honduras generally occurs along a road connecting the local oil refinery to the city’s main avenues. Thieves, known as ‘lateros’, extract small amounts of fuel from trucks — parked or in motion. Stolen fuel is then stored in surrounding neighborhoods, such as Los Mangos and Campo Rojo, where the 50,000 liters were recovered.
Deputy Police Commissioner Marlon Miranda said the police had been aware of the practice for years, but a lack of complaints and charges had served as a barrier to prosecuting anyone connected to the illegal practice.
The announcement of an in-depth investigation with the cooperation of prosecutors, police, and the military in the latest raid have raised hopes that the government will take real action at last.
As gasoline prices in the country having been sharply increasing this year, the demand for illegal fuel has also been growing.