Thieves seize shipping containers full of gold

Thieves in Mexico pulled off a massive heist, stealing 20 freight containers filled with partially refined gold and silver ore and televisions, according to the Mexican Employers Federation.

CBS News reports that the containers were stolen from Manzanillo, a Pacific coast seaport in the Mexican state of Colima.

On Monday, Jose Medina Mora, the president of the Mexican Employers Federation, said the robbery was indicative of rising criminal activity in Mexico.

"There is a growing lack of safety, and this is a sign of what is happening in the country and it requires that authorities take action," Mr Medina Mora said.

Horacio Duarte, who heads Mexico's customs service, confirmed the robbery on Monday and claimed that organised crime elements were involved.

"This was a very serious organized crime operation," he said.

According to the Mexican Navy, the containers were stolen from a private freight yard.

“The protection and security of merchandise within this type of facility is the responsibility of the owner and private security, and it has the permission of the municipal government to carry out its activities, remaining outside the area of responsibility of this institution,” the Navy said in a statement.

Local press reports that around 10 armed thieves stormed a private freight dispatch yard at the port, subdued the employees, and took several hours searching for the containers they wanted to steal. They then managed to hook the containers up to trucks and left with them.

There has been no sign of the containers or their contents since.

"This crime, which causes millionaire losses every year, has become the spur for many Mexican businessmen. Grupo Control Manzanillo has analyzed the problem, offering to take part in the fight against this activity within the scope of action of the commercial port of Colima," the Port of Manzanillo said in a press release.

The crime is largely unprecedented in the world of freight theft. Mexican criminals have hijacked and robbed trucks on the highway, but nothing close to the scope of the container heist.

The criminals could easily sell the television sets through the country's extensive black markets, but it is unclear what they will do with the partially refined gold and silver ores they stole.