Truck Carrying Stolen Radioactive Material Found

Mexico officials told NBC News the radioactive material was found about 1km from its container

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013  |  Updated 7:20 PM PDT
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Mexican authorities say they have a found a stolen truck carrying dangerous, radioactive material. The material, Cobalt 60, was found a half-mile away. NBC 7’s Brandi Powell has the latest on the fate of the thieves.

Mexican authorities say they have a found a stolen truck carrying dangerous, radioactive material. The material, Cobalt 60, was found a half-mile away. NBC 7’s Brandi Powell has the latest on the fate of the thieves.

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Mexican authorities said the truck carrying a dangerous radioactive source that was being moved from Tijuana to a storage facility in southern Mexico has been found empty.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed the theft Wednesday saying the cobalt-60 teletherapy source was coming from a hospital in Tijuana, which lies just south of San Diego along the U.S.- Mexico border.

The white cargo truck was last seen at a gas station in Tepojaco in Hidalgo state north of Mexico City Tuesday.

Driver Valentin Escamilla Ortiz told authorities he left Tijuana on Nov. 28 and was resting in the truck overnight when two men armed with a gun approached the truck about 1:30 a.m.

They made him get out, tied his hands and feet and left him in a vacant lot nearby.

Juan Eibenschutz, general director of Mexico's National Commission of Nuclear Security and Safeguards, told NBC News the radioactive material was found about 1km from its container.

Eibenshutz said officials have closed off the area where the material was found. They cannot approach until they've conducted tests at a distance to determine when it will be safe.

The official said he believes the thieves that opened the container are likely critically injured or dead.

The radioactive source belongs to the Mexican Social Security Institute and had been used in the Tijuana facility.

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