The US government has issued a security alert regarding an increased threat of piracy in the Gulf of Mexico. The alert follows a surge in attacks by armed criminal groups targeting oil industry ships and offshore platforms. According to a report from January 2019, pirate activity in the southern Gulf of Mexico has increased 310% between 2016 and 2018.
Piracy in the Gulf of Mexico has remained a concern for years as criminals are known to target commercial vessels, oil platforms, and offshore supply vessels in the Bay of Campeche. The criminals often pose as fishermen, assault the target with weapons, and steal anything of value. This typically includes steel pipes, electrical wiring, copper, drilling equipment, and cash.
The Mexican state-owned petroleum company Pemex has been a frequent target of pirate attacks. According to Mexican government officials, some attacks have even taken oil directly from pipes. Piracy in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to cost Pemex around $1 billion annually.