Mexico says arson attack at US energy services firm linked to extortion

Associated Press

An arson attack on a subsidiary of a U.S. energy-services firm was part of an extortion attempt, prosecutors in southern Mexico said Wednesday.

The attorney general in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, Fernando Valenzuela, said that five attackers forced their way into the company's yard and burned three trucks.

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"Unfortunately, the motive was extortion," Valenzuela told the Radio Formula station.

He confirmed local media accounts that the attackers said the arson was punishment for having ignored demands for protection payments.

Thousands of smaller Mexican companies have been subject to such extortion demands by criminal gangs, but larger, foreign-owned firms have seldom been acknowledged as targets.

The company whose compound was attacked was identified by prosecutors as "Key Energy Service," and the company appears to be a unit of Houston-based Key Energy Services Inc.

However, repeated calls to the company's U.S. and Mexican offices went unanswered.