MEXICO CITY (AP) — Thieves broke into a cargo storage area at the Pacific Coast seaport of Manzanillo and stole 20 cargo containers loaded with partially refined gold and silver ore and televisions , the Mexican Federation of Employers announced on Monday.

José Medina Mora, president of the federation, said the large-scale theft was a sign of growing crime in Mexico.

“There is a growing lack of security, and this is a sign of what is happening in the country and it demands action from the authorities,” Medina Mora said.

The state of Colima, where Manzanillo is located, has not officially commented on the June 5 theft.

But Horacio Duarte, the head of Mexican customs, confirmed the theft and said organized crime was involved.

“This was a very serious organized criminal operation,” Duarte said.

According to local news reports, about 10 armed robbers broke into a private rail yard near the port, overpowered employees, and then spent several hours searching for the shipping containers they wanted.

The thieves then apparently hooked the containers to trucks and drove with them. No sign of the containers or their contents has been seen since.

Cargo theft is a serious problem in Mexico, but it usually involves thieves hijacking one truck at a time on highways, not leaving with 20 containers of cargo.

Items like televisions are usually sold quickly on the country’s vast black markets, but it was unclear where thieves could sell tons of partially processed gold or silver ore. Any refiner would be likely to ask questions about its origin.

Colima prosecutors and police had a more pressing issue, with residents blocking roads in protest at the kidnapping and murder of locals. Two police officers have also been shot so far this month in the state, which is dominated by the Jalisco drug cartel.


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