During the third quarter of 2019, the number of train robberies in Mexico rose 13% compared with the previous quarter, according to data compiled by Mexico's Railway Transport Regulatory Agency (ARTF).
Agricultural grains, auto parts and consumer goods, such as beverages and toys, were the most stolen freight, the security report by ARTF found.
Between July and September of 2019, there were 1,064 total train thefts and 1,776 acts of train vandalism. The figure includes 910 robberies of train cargo, compared with 724 during the second quarter.
However, Ricardo Mejía, Mexico's undersecretary of security, said the data compiled by ARTF was false, and that train cargo thefts and vandalisms dropped in the past year.
"In this crime of theft of trains, such as freight and vehicle transport, there has been a decrease — with just over a thousand complaints, compared to almost 1,500 in the previous year," Mejia said during a press conference in Mexico City on Jan. 7.
He added that the ARTF is not responsible for collecting crime data, a duty that lies with Mexico's Attorney General's Office.
Officials with ARTF said new methods of compiling data allowed a broader picture of Mexico's railway system.
"It is now possible to make a comparison of the quarter to be evaluated with the four immediate previous quarters, which will allow for a more thorough analysis that takes into account the history of the system, in order to identify trends and be able to offer a broader picture of the current situation of the Mexican rail system," according to the report.
The report found the Mexican states that reported the most train cargo robberies from July through September were Tlaxcala (152 events — 20% of all robberies), Jalisco (101 events — 13%) and Sonora (71 events — 9%).
Tlaxcala is a small state in central Mexico, east of Mexico City, while Jalisco lies to the west along the Pacific Ocean. Sonora is in northwest Mexico, bordering Arizona.
The majority of theft occurs in the main railway corridors of Mexico, such as Valle de México-Veracruz; Valley of Mexico-Ciudad Juarez; Nogales-Guadalajara; and Irapuato-Manzanillo, according to the report.
Companies such as Ferromex, Kansas City Southern De Mexico and Ferrosur are some of the largest rail operators in the area.
Four people were injured when vandals stole part of a track and caused a Ferromex freight train to derail in central Mexico in October. Ferromex is one of the largest railroad consortiums in the country.