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PepsiCo denies spying on Mexican druglords as trucks firebombed

By Oliver Nieburg , 05-Jun-2012

Over 30 Sabritas delivery vehicles have been torched in the past two weeks
Over 30 Sabritas delivery vehicles have been torched in the past two weeks

PepsiCo has refuted claims that it allows police to snoop on drug gangs in Mexico after a spate of arson attacks on distribution centres and delivery vehicles transporting its Sabritas snacks brand.

Last Thursday, a driver suffered second-degree burns after a Sabritas truck was torched with gasoline bombs outside the city Moreila by men armed with assault rifles.

The latest attack followed five arson attacks on Sabritas warehouses and 30 on company trucks between 22 and 24 May.

A drug cartel is understood to have claimed responsibility for the attacks and has accused Pepsico of allowing Police to use Sabritas vehicles to monitor gang activity. PepsiCo denies the claim.

Pepsico: Trucks not used for spying

Pepsico/Frito Lay North America spokesperson Aurora Gonzalez told BakeryAndSnacks.com: “Our delivery trucks distribute our products and are not used for other purposes.”

“Sabritas is a food company that uses its facilities and other privately-owned assets to make, move and sell our products to our customers and consumers.”

The attacks are believed to be the first against a global company by a drug cartel.

Cartel to blame?

Banners were reportedly strung up in Moreila and nearby towns by the Knights Templar cartel, an off-shot of the La Familia drug gang, according to media reports.

The cartel is one of several gangs that have been involved in a five and a half year long drug war with the Mexican authorities.

Restoring operations

PepsiCo has said that the threats will not deter its operations.

“The local team continues to work to restore business operations,” said Gonzalez.

“The safety and wellbeing of our employees is our first and most important priority. We have strong safety protocols in place for our facilities and associates,” she said.

Sabritas is a subsidiary of PepsiCo and forms part of the company’s snack division Frito Lay. It manufactures potato chips such as Doritos, Tostitos and Cheetos for the Mexican market.

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