Tainted Fuel Operation Busted

HOUSTON -- Vehicles throughout Southeast Texas may have been damaged by fuel waste that gas stations accepted from an illegal distribution ring making deliveries under cover of night, according to a Houston Chronicle report.

The network was broken up last week with the arrests of four suspects in Houston, and police said many more indictments are possible. The number of vehicles harmed by the tainted fuel may never be known. Fuel waste delivered to gas stations by the distribution ring was used to supplement regular gasoline, apparently to boost profit margins, the report said.

Authorities suspect some gas station operators were aware of the scheme.

Investigators also seized the unlicensed 9,400-gallon tanker truck that delivered the gasoline to stations throughout Southeast Texas. They estimated that a couple million dollars in tax revenue was lost because the deliveries were not recorded, as is required of fuel deliverers.

Investigators believe those involved in the network were draining waste fuel from the bottoms of barges, then delivering the product to numerous gas stations from Houston to Corpus Christi, where it was mixed into the tanks that supply the pumps. The deliveries were made in the middle of the night, and the truck sometimes made several trips a night to the same gas station.

The name East Houston Used Oil Co. was displayed on the truck, but police said the name was just a front.

The image of a Coastal Transport Inc. delivery truck used in this story was removed because the company was not part of the police investigation.