A drug cartel lieutenant and several other alleged gang members have been arrested over a series of firebomb attacks on a Mexican snack company owned by PepsiCo.
Dozens of Sabritas delivery trucks were burned and buildings damaged at five distribution centers in Michoacan and the neighboring state of Guanajuato.
Mexican police are providing heightened security for the PepsiCo subsidiary, with about a hundred state and federal police standing guard at distribution centres, according to Julio Hernandez, a spokesman for western Michoacan state.
He said the attacks will further impact investment in the state.
“There will be effects on investment,” Hernandez said.
“In fact, private investment, both foreign and domestic, has been stalled in recent years.
“There hasn’t been any.”
It’s believed the attacks could be linked to the company’s refusal to hand over protection money to the gangs, who have terrorised locals and businesses throughout the drug war which has gone on more than five years.
The bombings are believed to be the first time a multinational company has been targeted by drug gangs in Mexico.
Guanajuato state attorney general Carlos Zamarripa four alleged members of the Knights Templar cartel in connection with the attacks.
Vice president of Sabritas-PepsiCo, Francisco Merino, told local media earlier this week that company officials were not aware of any demands for protection payments, which drug gangs frequently use to control areas and bring in extra income for illegal activities.
Prosecutors say the four men arrested have carried out murders, kidnappings, drug sales, extortion and loan sharking, along with demanding payments from street vendors and vendors of pirated goods.
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