- Thieves took 20 shipping containers from a freight yard in Mexico this month.
- The containers were loaded with gold, silver ore, and TVs, per local media reports.
- The head of Mexico's customs service said the theft was the result of organized crime.
Twenty shipping containers that were loaded with gold, silver ore, and televisions were stolen earlier this month, according to the Mexican Employers Federation.
Horacio Duarte, the head of Mexico's customs service, told the Associated Press that the theft was the result of "a very serious organized crime operation." The region, known as the state of Colima, is dominated by the Jalisco Cartel, a semi-militarized group of criminals that is led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, a drug trafficker who is known as the most-wanted man in Mexico, as well as one of the most-wanted in the US.
The Mexican Employers Federation and Mexico Custom Regulations did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.
The theft took place earlier this month, but was not reported until Monday.
Local newspaper El Pais reported that over a dozen fully-armed thieves broke into a private freight yard near a port in Manzanillo, dubbing it the "biggest heist' in the port's history. The thieves reportedly gagged the guards at the yard and took eight hours to pick out the high-value shipping containers.
El Pais reported that the men knew how to use the cranes and other gear at the location and connected the containers to several trucks before driving away.
"It is unprecedented, there had been no robbery of this nature before this," Gustavo Adrián Joya, a spokesperson for the security department of Colima state, said in a statement to El Pais.
The goods have not been seen since, the local newspaper reported. José Medina Mora, president of the Mexican Employers Federation, told Associated Press the theft is a sign that safety concerns in the nation are growing. El Pais reported that the port is a main thoroughfare for the cartel, especially for unloading synthetic drugs that are made in Mexico and sold in the US.
While freight theft is not uncommon, it is unusual for dozens of containers to be stolen at once. CargoNet's vice president of operations, Keith Lewis, told Insider freight yards can be a vulnerable place for high value goods.
"A shipment is most vulnerable anytime it is parked," Lewis said.
Lewis said that multi-million dollar shipments like containers full of semiconductor chips or television sets are often fitted with security devices in the US, including covert trackers and specialty locks to deter thieves.