Fact Check

Cyanide Truck Hijack

Was a truck carrying ten tons of cyanide hijacked in Mexico?

Published May 29, 2002


Claim:   A truck carrying ten tons of cyanide was hijacked in Mexico, and some of the cyanide is still missing.

Status:   Sort of.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

**High Priority **
The following is a notification just received from the FBI.
Thursday, May 16 (original Tuesday, May 14)

This is to notify all recipients that a tractor trailer unit was hijacked by three (3) unidentified gunmen on Highway 85 north of Mexico City, Mexico, on Sunday, May 12, 2002.

Authorities in both Mexico and Texas have confirmed this hijacking. This hijacking so far is noteworthy because the unit was loaded with one hundred 55-gallon barrels of cyanide. There is no information at this time as to who perpetrated this crime, where the truck and cargo are, or where the cargo may be destined.

The FBI would appreciate all transportation companies notifying their drivers of this unit's description. The tractor has been described as a white 2002

Origins:   In the panic-filled days immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, one of the more prevalent varieties of rumors concerned warnings of stolen or hijacked commercial trucks which might be used as camouflage by terrorists to launch additional attacks against targets in


All of those rumors proved to be baseless, but the current warning about the hijacking of a Mexican truck loaded with cyanide is real. On Friday, 10 May 2002 (two days earlier than reported in the warning above), three armed men hijacked a tractor-trailer carrying 96 fifty-five-gallon drums (equivalent to 20,000 pounds) of cyanide in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. There is as yet no evidence that the truck was targeted for terrorist purposes, or that the hijackers were even aware of the nature of the cargo it carried. Truck hijackings for the purposes of stripping down the vehicles and selling the parts is a common occurrence in Mexico and (in the absence of any other evidence) is the most likely motive for the theft.

The truck was recovered by Mexican police in Zacatlan on Thursday, 16 May, but authorities discovered some of the cyanide it carried was missing. Two weeks later, 70 drums of sodium cyanide from the stolen truck were found near a dirt road in central Mexico, but six drums remain unaccounted for.

Last updated:   8 March 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Associated Press.   "Truck Full of Cyanide is Stolen in Mexico."

    The New York Times.   16 May 2002.

    Associated Press.   "Stolen Cynanide Drums Found in Mexico."

    The Washington Post.   29 May 2002.

    Associated Press.   "Mexican Officials Find Truck with Deadly Sodium Cyanide."

    16 May 2002.

    CNN.com.   "Mexico Seeks Stolen Tractor-Trailer with Cyanide."

    16 May 2002.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags