Mexico City, Mexico — The theft of CFE cable for its copper is being called the new huachicol or new group of thieves around Mexico. While the term huachicol has generally been reserved for petro theft, specifically from Pemex pipelines, the term is now being extended to CFE.
The theft of copper cables stolen from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has cost the company more than 488.1 million peso. CFE wire theft has been an ongoing problem for many years.
On a daily average, the company loses around 858 meters of copper cable, cable that is pulled from live lines where the copper is removed and sold for cash. Luis Bravo, CFE communication director said that their copper wires are sold on the black market, which for the thieves, is very profitable since the payout for copper is higher than other scrap metals.
Bravo says that the scrap dealers transfer the copper to recycling plants where they are smelted. “Copper is a metal that can be traded for other purposes and becomes a very attractive asset or material for crime,” said the CFE official.
The theft of CFE cable has become an even bigger concern this year with several incidences, including one death, in the northern region of Quintana Roo. In May, nearly 11,000 were left without power in Playa del Carmen after nighttime thieves made off with cable from a substation.
“It happens at night, some rogues arrive, open the covers, steal the cable and leave people without power, then you have to replace the cable and restore service. They are acts of vandalism and the victim is the CFE,” he emphasized.
Days later in two separate Cancun incidences, two men were caught attempting to steal wire, one of whom, died in the process.