- Thursday night's victim is hospitalized with extensive burns
- Last weekend, five of the company's distribution centers were set ablaze
- The Interior Ministry vows to protect businesses
- U.S. State Department condemns the attacks
A snack food truck driver was in a Mexican hospital Friday after his vehicle was set on fire, the latest in a string of attacks on his employer, a company spokeswoman said.
"We do not know who is responsible for this act or what their motive may have been," said Aurora Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo, the owner of the Mexican snack food distributor Sabritas. "Sabritas is deeply concerned that any employee would be put in danger or harmed."
The 29-year-old driver suffered burns over 70% of his body, officials said. Last weekend, five Sabritas distribution centers were set alight and about 40 delivery trucks were destroyed in the states of Michoacan and Guanajuato, the site of a turf war between cartels.
Sabritas distributes snacks, including Cheetos, Fritos, Ruffles and Doritos. It says it controls 80% of the snack market in Mexico.
Drug cartel members have posted banners saying the snack company let law enforcement agents use its trucks for surveillance, a charge Gonzalez denied.
"Sabritas is a food company that uses its facilities and other privately owned assets to make, move and sell our products to our customers and consumers," she said.
Mexico's vice minister of the interior, Obdulio Avila, said authorities have been in touch with officials from PepsiCo and other companies about what they are doing to protect businesses.
"We will not allow organized crime to threaten any person or company in our country," he said. "The federal government will take all the action necessary to bring to justice those criminals who threaten the source of income for the Mexican people."
This week, the U.S. State Department condemned the attacks on the U.S.-owned company and said government officials have been in touch with PepsiCo and Mexican authorities.
"The United States will continue to assist Mexico's efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations in strict accordance with Mexican law and with respect for Mexican sovereignty," the State Department said in a statement.
Sabritas was founded in 1943 and was acquired by PepsiCo in 1966.