Julio Cesar Zuñiga Cruz, alias “La Parka,” was gunned down on Mixquiahuala Tula highway in Hidalgo state by an unidentified group Sunday. Other passengers in the car were unharmed, however, Zuñiga suffered multiple bullet wounds and was declared by local hospital personnel on arrival.
Police officials have not determined Zuñiga’s connection to Saturday’s tragedy, however, they confirmed that he was known to be one of the many “Huachicolero” leaders known to orchestrate illicit fuel extraction from state pipelines.
Another ten victims were declared dead in a statement from the Health Ministry, Sunday, bringing the casualties list to 89 people dead and 51 injured.
The accident occurred Friday afternoon in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo when hundreds of people, using buckets, were illegally collecting fuel, which stagnated in farmlands.
The pipeline's leakage was reported at 5:00 pm local time, Tlahuelilpan Mayor Juan Pedro Cruz said. The Mexican army arrived to cordon off the area but could not control some 200 people who were extracting the fuel. The agents asked the crowd to leave the area but they did not comply with the order, which caused the tragedy.
The fuel explosion created a 'fire barrier', causing a large number of people to become trapped in a ditch-like area.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) told victims’ families, "We will not forget this tremendous tragedy ."
Lopez Obrador launched a crackdown on fuel theft on Dec. 27 and ordered pipelines to be closed temporarily to stop illegal taps draining billions of dollars from the heavily-indebted state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).