Astronomical observatories are harassed by cartels in Puebla

Out of fear, scientists abandon and diminish their activities in the Great Millimeter Telescope, which cost 200 million dollars.

Large Alfonso Serrano Millimeter Telescope. Photo: TecReview
Large Alfonso Serrano Millimeter Telescope. Photo: TecReview

Two astronomical observatories internationally recognized in central Mexico reduced their activities due to insecurity in the area, the Mexican astrophysics institute said Tuesday.

"The situation of insecurity that prevails in the region is publicly known," said the institute, responsible for the Large Millimeter Telescope and a gamma-ray observatory, both located in an area known as Sierra Negra, in the state of Puebla.

The institute said it is confident that the research work will continue, but added that this will happen to the extent that the authorities report a security strategy to follow.

Puebla has suffered from insecurity related to criminal groups for years, mainly dedicated to fuel theft and looting of trains, among other crimes, which affects the eastern region of the state, exactly where the observatories are located.

The site is near the town of Atzizintla - about 250 km from Mexico City, where authorities have been identified in previous years for allegedly being involved in the theft of fuel, as well as being the operations center of a criminal leader known as "The Bukanas", for whom there is a reward of five million pesos ($ 262,000).

In addition, the highway that leads to Atzizintla is a constant scenario of the installation of roadblocks of apocryphal policemen who assault mainly trucks with goods, but also private motorists.

The Large Millimeter Telescope, designed to make astronomical observations, was inaugurated in November 2006 and had an investment of 200 million dollars. It is a joint project with the University of Massachusetts, in the United States.

With an antenna, 50 meters in diameter is the largest telescope in the world of its kind. It has a battery of instruments that allows studying the formation of structures (galaxies, stars, and planets) in all the scales of the Universe.

For its part, the gamma-ray observatory is an instrument designed to detect very high energy gamma-ray emissions from astronomical objects.