Stolen drums containing sodium cyanide recovered in Mexico
May 30, 2002 12:00 PM
Ninty-six drums containing sodium cyanide were recovered in Mexico May 30 after a cargo of the chemical was stolen earlier from a tractor-trailer rig, according to news reports. The drums were part of hijacked cargo that was taken May 12 while the rig was enroute from Queretaro, Queretaro, to Pachuca, Hidalgo.
Mexican police found 75 drums about 80 miles northeast of Mexico City near Honey, Puebla. They said some appeared to have been opened. The remainder were found earlier. The theft had prompted fears the incident might be part of a terrorist plot. Mexico issued a general alert, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued an alert and contacted US trucking associations to apprise their members of the situation. Some Mexican officials have contended the hijacking was conducted by thieves unaware of the rig's contents.
Sodium cyanide (ERG 1689) is used in gold and silver mining. Toxic by contact, inhalation, or ingestion, it attacks the nervous system and can cause suffocation within minutes.
Mexican police recovered the rig near Azcatlan, Puebla, four days after it was hijacked, but most of the cargo of about 100 drums was missing. The driver is under house arrest for improperly leaving the main highway to take a shortcut and stopping to aid motorists.