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Drug Cartels Become Black Market Oil Barons

by Jason Wire Aug 12, 2009
The toughest thing about being the kingpin of a massive drug cartel is that you’ve always got to outdo everyone who came before you.

Got a fleet of Hummers the size of Desert Storm?  You’re still in little league until you upgrade to a submarine.

Think your stockpile of AK-47s and grenade launchers is the pinnacle of drug lordship?

The guys with anti-tank and Soviet surface-to-air missiles are laughing at you in their palatial estates in the jungle while tending to their pet hippopotami and the rest of their personal zoo.

Now you can add stolen oil refineries to the bling list of the deadly Mexican drug cartels.

On Monday, the head of a Houston oil company plead guilty to illegally buying millions of dollars worth of black market oil from a drug cartel and smuggling it across the border.  The drug gangs–which now seem more like small armies–tapped remote pipelines to divert insane amounts of oil into their own stockpiles for resale.  Oil is Mexico’s chief source of foreign income and brings in about 40% of the GDP each year.

Authorities have not yet commented on what the street name for oil might be, though a popular drug known as “gasoline” is claimed by some to have similar effects.

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Read “The Trouble with Black Gold: 7 Sins of Oil Production,” a related article from our archives.

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