A truck carrying highly radioactive material that could be used to create a weapon of mass destruction has been stolen in the Mexican state of Jalisco, the U.K. Telegraph reports.
The theft happened Sunday in the town of Tlaquepaque, which the U.K. Express says is “just half a day’s drive from the Texan border.” The truck was carrying iridium-192, an unstable isotope used in radiology equipment.
Iridium-192, which has a half-life of 73 days, is one of the few materials that can be used to construct a so-called “dirty bomb” — a weapon of mass destruction that spreads highly radioactive material throughout a small area via an explosion.
According to the Telegraph, a spokesman for the Mexico Interior Ministry said the material can be extremely hazardous.
“The source can be dangerous if it is not handled in safe conditions,” the spokesman said. “It could cause permanent injuries to anyone who manipulates it or is in contact with it over a short period of time (minutes to hours).
“Plus if the material is not in its container it represents a significant risk to health.”
The government said that it’s possible that the thieves didn’t know they were hijacking a truck full of radioactive material. However, with radical Islamist terror cells suspected of operating just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, no risk can be overlooked.
Either way, according to the Telegraph, authorities have issued an alert for the states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacan San Luis Potosi, Durango, and Zacatecas.
The fact that a truck full of radioactive material that can be used to create a WMD can simply disappear doesn’t speak well to the efficacy of Mexican law enforcement. This would be scary enough even if it weren’t for the fact it was just a few hours drive from a border some elements of the American polity aren’t particularly interested in protecting.
We don’t know who these thieves are or why they want this material. If these are terrorists, however, Americans would feel a lot better knowing there was a wall between them and our country.
It’s a lot better than relying on Mexican law enforcement to find a truck full of radioactive material before it makes its way over the porous frontier separating us from our neighbor to the south.
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