Army troops found clandestine oil depots containing 1.5 million liters (396,258 gallons) of stolen fuel in the eastern state of Veracruz, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.

Soldiers from the 29th Military Zone, "in responding to a tip from citizens, carried out land reconaissance in Ejido Tacoteno, city of Minatitlan, Veracruz, where they found two fields with clandestine hydrocarbons deposits," the secretariat said in a statement.

The depots held 1.4 million liters of crude oil, 141,000 liters of diesel and 16,000 liters of export-grade UBA diesel, the secretariat said.

Two tanker trucks and eight tanks on trailers were seized at the site, which is near one of Mexico's six oil refineries, the secretariat said.

State-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, told Congress last month that theft of fuel soared over the past few years.

Fuel theft rose 38 percent in 2011, compared to the prior year, totaling 6.8 million barrels, Pemex said.

Drug cartels and other criminal organizations have turned fuel theft into another source of money.

Pemex is suing 14 companies in the United States for allegedly buying stolen fuel from the Los Zetas drug cartel. EFE