July 25, 2018: Train Robbery Capital of the World

Acultzingo, a small town located four hours southeast of Mexico City, has quickly become the train robbery capital of Mexico. In the past year alone there were 521 crimes involving cargo trains in or around Acultzingo. The robberies were choreographed attacks that usually started by piling rocks onto the railroad tracks and ended with an army of thieves descending on the now-derailed cars and stealing the cargo.
Townspeople are being encouraged to participate by the gangs in an effort to obtain an added layer of protection from police officers and soldiers. Alejandro Schultmann, a political-risk analyst, feels it’s not hard to convince townspeople to join in. “Communities argue that the rich are getting richer and poor poorer,” Schtulmann says, “so it’s social justice.”
Thieves have taken items ranging from tequila and shoes to tires and toilet paper. In some cases, the financial loss can be massive. One incident involving GMexico Transportes cost the company over $15 million. Some companies, like Mazda Motor, have grown tired of parts being stripped from their vehicles as they are transported by rail through the area and have opted to ship them by highway despite the  30%  increase in shipping costs. Unfortunately, that solution is not a long-term fix as the robbery rate for the trucking industry is also increasing. Enrique Gonzalez, the head of Mexico’s trucking association, met with president-elect Lopez Obrador and asked to have a special prosecutor assigned to fight highway theft.
According to Sensitech,  a subsidiary of United Technologies that monitors supply-chain logistics, Mexico has more train robberies than any other country. The majority of incidents occur in the southeastern portion of Mexico. This area makes it an ideal setting for this type of criminal activity because it is surrounded by poverty, there is a steady supply of cargo traveling through the heart of the region, and thieves are able to use the mountains for natural cover.

The Train Robbery Capital of the World