Mexican police officers.
© Henry Romero / Reuters
Mexican police officers.
A powerful Mexican criminal syndicate has pressured gas stations not to fill the tanks of police and military vehicles. The authorities have responded by shutting them down for discrimination.

The national consumer protection agency, Profeco, closed nine gas stations in the city of Nuevo Laredo near the US border for "discrimination" on Tuesday, after attendants there refused to serve the army and the federal police.

Three more stations were due to be shut down but they were found to be already out of service when the agents arrived.

Attendants began refusing to fill the tanks of police and army vehicles after allegedly receiving death threats from the powerful Northeastern Cartel. One gas station worker explained to the officers that he has received "orders from above" not to serve police. Another said that armed men came and threatened to kill him if he sold gas to law enforcement.

Mexico has seen a spike in violent gang-related crime in recent years. Last year, there were over 33,500 murders committed, which is the highest number since records began in the late 1990s. Nearly 8,500 people were murdered from January to March this year alone.