MEXICO CITY - Altars to the Virgin of Guadalupe are ubiquitous at businesses across Mexico. Now federal police say one has even been used in a gasoline smuggling racket in the central state of Puebla.

Police said Tuesday that a trail of fuel leaking into the street in the town of San Martin Texmelucan led them into a lot where they found an altar to Mexico's patron saint with an unusual red hose protruding from it.

As they approached, a man carrying a gun got out of a vehicle and tried to flee. Police say they eventually caught him, and five other people accused of filling up from the Virgin's tap.

Thieves drill into thousands of pipelines across Mexico each year to steal fuel, creating heavy losses for the state-owned oil company Pemex.

Recommended for you