Cargo theft in Mexico remains a persistent challenge affecting national supply chains. This phenomenon, which has evolved over the years, demands creative solutions and joint efforts between sectors for its effective prevention. Over the years, this crime has represented a constant threat to supply chains in both the private and public sectors in various regions of the country.

From January to May 2024, 73% of cargo thefts were concentrated in five states: State of Mexico (32%), Puebla (24%), Guanajuato (7%), Jalisco (5%) and Michoacán (5%). The map made by Overhaul shows the temporal and spatial criminal patterns for each state, as well as the main modes of operation used to commit this crime.

ETYL 2023

This information shows the variability of criminal activity at the regional and state level, highlighting the importance of generating Intelligence products to establish focused prevention and mitigation strategies.

For example, the State of Mexico in the central region of the country has the highest cargo theft activity nationwide with 32%, of which the temporal pattern shows that 63% occurred from Tuesday to Thursday, with an almost proportional distribution throughout the day. The main target of criminal groups in this entity were heavy cargo units, such as tractor-trailers, which accounted for 53% of the incidents, followed by small utility units with 26 percent. The main mode of operation in this federal entity is the interception of units in transit with 71%, focusing mainly on the food and beverage sector, which represents 38% of the thefts in this period.

Regarding spatial patterns, 44% of cargo theft in the State of Mexico was concentrated in the municipalities of Tecámac (15%), Ecatepec (11%), Huehuetoca (8%), Jilotepec (5%) and Tlalnepantla (5%). 38% of the crimes occurred on two main communication routes in this state: Mexico-Querétaro (MEX-57D) with 26% and Mexico-Pachuca (MEX-85D) with 12 percent. These communication routes represent the main connections from the north to the center of the country, so they have greater traffic and volume of merchandise, which generates greater exposure and opportunity for criminal groups. An additional fact, according to the National Public Security System (SNSP), is that 8 out of 10 crimes of robbery of transporters in the state occur with violence.

Despite this context in the State of Mexico, this entity also presents the highest levels of recovery of units and merchandise: the coordination between the three levels of authorities in working groups, the creation of a specialized unit to combat vehicle theft, and the prosecution of the crime through a Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, are essential factors for the design of strategies for intervention, containment, recovery and prosecution of the crime of cargo theft. However, these efforts are generating displacement of criminal activity to neighboring entities, mainly the state of Hidalgo, which shows a 76% increase in the same period, particularly on the Mexico-Querétaro (MEX-57D) and Mexico-Pachuca (MEX-85D) highways.

It is worth mentioning that to effectively address cargo theft in Mexico, a comprehensive approach is required that combines actionable intelligence, detailed analysis, and close collaboration between the public and private sectors, specifically considering that the regions and states present very diverse spatial and temporal criminal patterns, modes of operation, and hot products that cover a continuum that goes from small criminal groups to specialized ones, with a degree of maturity in their mode of operation and criminal signature over time.

In contrast to the State of Mexico, Guanajuato, which is located in the Bajío region, represents 7% of cargo theft nationwide. The time pattern shows greater criminal activity from Tuesday to Friday, due to the greater movement of goods on work days. Additionally, the time that presents the greatest risk is between 06:00 and 12:00 hrs., which is related to the transit of goods. The type of units that are stolen most frequently are heavy vehicles such as tractor-trailers with 48% of the criminal activity and medium vehicles such as torton and rabón with 28 percent. Generally, the units are intercepted in motion (81%) by criminal groups that use long weapons in their operations, unlike in the State of Mexico, where they commonly use short weapons.

In this state, criminals focus more on the theft of products from the Construction and Industrial sector with 30% of the incidence, and Food and Beverages with 23 percent. Speically, 73% of cargo theft occurs in the municipalities of Celaya (21%), Juventino Rosas (11%), Apaseo El Grande (11%), Silao (9%), Irapuato (9%), Salamanca (6%) and León (6%), which are located on the Querétaro-León highway (MEX-45D) with 32% of the crimes in the state, which crosses most of the industrial corridor of the state that concentrates 85% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Some strategies that have been effective in mitigating this crime have been the use of physical and electronic security measures in cargo units, as well as traveling during daylight. Overhaul has the best technology in a risk integration platform that has the capacity to add various electronic devices in a proprietary risk monitoring platform that facilitates the detection of crime and increases the chances of recovery.

Additionally, Overhaul has detailed information on the criminal patterns of cargo theft at a national level, which allows it to design specific strategies by type of industry and logistics operation for the mitigation and prevention of cargo theft.

Luis Villatoro is director of Supply Chain Security & Intelligence LATAM at Overhaul, and has worked in the private and public sectors in the areas of security. He has a background in Political Science and Public Administration, as well as master’s degrees in Political Science; Human Rights; Intelligence, Security and Defense; both in Mexico and Spain.

Source: t21