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U.S. refineries bought millions of dollars worth of oil stolen from Mexican government pipelines and smuggled across the border, the U.S. Justice Department told The Associated Press -- illegal operations now led by Mexican drug cartels expanding their reach.
Criminals -- mostly drug gangs -- tap remote pipelines, sometimes building pipelines of their own, to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil each year, the Mexican oil monopoly said. At least one U.S. oil executive has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in such a deal.
President Barack Obama arrived in Mexico City on Sunday to discuss a variety of topics with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, Felipe Calderon and Stephen Harper. The three men took questions at a news conference on Monday, discussing, among other things, fight drug traffickers. Harper praised Calderon's efforts battling the cartel, saying the issue affected the entire continent.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Homeland Security department is scheduled to return $2.4 million to Mexico's tax administration, the first batch of money seized during a binational investigation into smuggled oil that authorities expect to lead to more arrests and seizures.
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