A Mexican drug cartel known as The Knights Templar launched a series of attacks this weekend on warehouses and vehicles belonging to the potato chip company Sabritas, owned by U.S.-based PepsiCo., according to reports published Tuesday.
Five different Sabritas warehouses, in Michoacán and Guanajuato, came under attack over the weekend by gunmen, and a cartel member was detained by authorities. Over 30 of the company’s delivery vehicles, used to deliver Cheetos, Fritos and other PepsiCo. potato products, were torched and structures were set ablaze, but nobody was injured or killed.
Authorities called it an attempt at extortion — the first ever to target a U.S.-based multinational corporation. There were also rumors that the company’s delivery trucks had been used by federal security agents to spy on cartel activities.
Pepsi has adamantly denied that allegation, telling The Associated Press: “[Our] vehicles and facilities are used exclusively to carry our products to our customer and clients.”
An investigative report by Al Jazeera English, published last year, claimed that the Mexican Knights Templar began as an offshoot of the La Familia cartel, one of the largest and most powerful drug gangs in Mexico. Al Jazeera said the Templars are known to traffic methamphetamine and marijuana into the U.S., along with extorting small businesses for regular payments.
Sabritas has more than 70,000 employees in Mexico.
This video was published to YouTube on May 27, 2012 by Mexican news agency Agencia Esquema.
Photo: The Sabritas logo, screenshot via YouTube.