British Columbia

Judge denies bail for retired Mexican general arrested in gas theft corruption case

A Vancouver judge has denied bail for a retired Mexican general who was arrested in B.C. last week on charges of masterminding organized thefts of fuel from Mexico's state-owned oil and gas monopoly.

Eduardo Leon Trauwitz faces up to 60 years in prison for alleged role in thefts from Pemex fuel network

In this 2011 file photo, a Mexican police officer inspects barrels containing stolen diesel fuel in the municipality of Apodaca. The former head of security for Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex is currently facing extradition from Canada on charges of covering up a fuel theft racket. (Josue Gonzalez/Reuters)

A Vancouver judge has denied bail for a retired Mexican general who was arrested in B.C. last week on charges of masterminding organized thefts of fuel from Mexico's state-owned oil and gas monopoly.

In her ruling, Justice Veronica Jackson stated that Eduardo Leon Trauwitz, who was arrested in Canada as part of an extradition agreement with Mexico, would remain in detention while extradition proceedings are underway.

Trauwitz faces up to 60 years in a Mexican prison for a scheme he allegedly orchestrated during his seven years as head of security for Petroleos Mexicanos, commonly known as Pemex.

The lawyer for the attorney general of Canada alleges the retired army general forced his subordinates to facilitate and cover up illegal taps of Pemex's pipelines by violent criminal organizations.

On Thursday, Justice Jackson ruled that the bail plan proposed by Trauwitz's lawyers was "inadequate" to ensure he appears at future court dates. She noted his history of missing court dates in Mexico, his lack of strong ties to Canada, and the long prison sentence he faces if convicted as reasons for denying bail.

Trauwitz's defence counsel had previously argued that the Mexican expat was not a flight risk due to his ties to Canada including that he has been residing in B.C. without incident for 30 months, has submitted a refugee status application and lives with his daughter who studies at the University of British Columbia.

But Justice Jackson pointed out that most of Trauwitz's family still lives in Mexico and that he has no employment history or property in Canada.

Claims of a set-up

For years, fuel thefts by organized crime groups in Mexico have led to gas shortages and major disasters in several states.

The case against Trauwitz alleges that during his time as head of security at Pemex between 2012 and 2018, he forced employees to perform irregular clandestine taps.

Military personnel watch as flames engulf an area after a ruptured fuel pipeline exploded, in the municipality of Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo, Mexico, near the Tula refinery of state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), January 18, 2019 in this handout photo provided by the National Defence Secretary (SEDENA). (National Defence Secretary/Handout/Reuters)

Former employees have filed a complaint before the Mexican attorney general that includes claims that Pemex officials used intimidation, threats, and discrimination to orchestrate the scheme. 

The lawyer for the retired general,Tom Arbogast, has argued that his client is being set-up as the "fall guy" in the gas theft corruption scheme in which 1.87 billion litres of hydrocarbon were allegedly stolen through the clandestine taps.

Trauwitz's next court appearance is set for Jan. 26, 2022.

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