Another report that opponents of cross border trucking have latched onto and using to push their agenda of misinformation about Mexican trucks is that of Mexican drug gangs “cloning” trucks to smuggle their contraband.
There is no evidence to be found that 18 wheel road rigs are being “cloned”. What the reports state is COMMERCIAL VEHICLES being cloned. A commercial vehicle can be anything from a 1/4 ton pickup to an 18 wheeler. This is like the misconception, the facts of which can’t be found, that 10,000 commercial vehicles are being hijacked. Again, the operative word is “commercial vehicle”. Package delivery vans, pickups 2 axle, three axle straight trucks.
This is what the transportation Safety Administration issued on 15 October 2010 which seems to be the basis for these amplified claims.
The TSA bulletin stated:
Drug traffickers also have been known to hijack and clone legitimate commercial trucks to transport illicit cargo across the border. According to a highway cargo trade group,in 2010, criminals hijacked over 10,000commercial trucks in Mexico.
Hmmm, a “highway trade group”? Not the best source of information depending on what side of the debate they are on..
TSA went on to state:
“Although DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) lacks evidence that drug trafficking organizations are able to clone FAST & certified trucks, it remains a concern for the private sector. (DHSI&A) “…believes the possibility that drug traffickers can use FAST & certified trucks remains low based on the numerous requirements for certification.”That said, (DHSI&A) cannot discount the potential threat based on widespread cloning by drug traffickers of other commercial trucks.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the cloned trucks that have been found in the US.
SUBJECT: UNUSUAL INCIDENT – CLONED CHP COMMERCIAL MRE VEHICLE USED FOR
SMUGGLING UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS
A DISABLED DODGE PICKUP TRUCK EQUIPPED WITH FUNCTIONAL EMERGENCY LIGHTS, CHP LOGOS AND PAINTED TO RESEMBLE A CHP COMMERCIAL MOBILE ROAD
ENFORCEMENT TRUCK WAS FOUND TO BE OCCUPIED WITH NINE UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.
SUMMARY OF INCIDENT:
DURING THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF JULY 9, 2010, A US BORDER PATROL UNIT ON ROUTINE PATROL IN THE AREA OF FORRESTER ROAD NORTH OF IMLER ROAD IN
IMPERIAL COUNTY, CAME UPON AND STOPPED TO ASSIST WHAT APPEARED TO BE A CHP COMMERCIAL MOBILE ROAD ENFORCEMENT PICKUP TRUCK WITH A FLAT LEFT
REAR TIRE. WHILE THE AGENTS WERE APPROACHING THE PICKUP CHP UNIT 85-R3, OFFICERS H. TAVARES, #14839 AND R. SANCHEZ #17731, OBSERVING THE BORDER PATROL AND CHP PICKUP TRUCK, STOPPED TO RENDER ASSISTANCE. THE CHP OFFICERS IMMEDIATELY NOTED DISCREPEANCIES WITH THE MRE TRUCK’S MARKINGS AND EQUIPMENT. THE TRUCK INITIALLY APPEARED UNOCCUPIED AND UPON CLOSER EXAMINATION THE BORDER PATROL AGENTS DISCOVERED NINE UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS CONCEALED WITHIN THE CARGO COMPARTMENT OF THE TRUCK FURTHER INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT THE TRUCK WAS A CLONED VEHICLE EQUIPPED WITH FUNCTIONING EMERGENCY LIGHT BARS, STAR EMBLEM, LETTERING,
PUSH BUMPER, AND ALTERED LICENSE PLATES DESIGNED TO APPEAR AS CALIFORNIA EXEMPT PLATES. A SEARCH OF THE AREA FOR THE DRIVER WAS CONDUCTED WITH
US BORDER PATROL WHICH YIELDED NEGATIVE RESULTS. THE TRUCK AND ITS OCCUPANTS WERE TURNED OVER TO HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATORS OF THE IMPERIAL VALLEY BORDER ENFORCEMENT SECURITY TASK FORCE LED BY ICE.
ACTION TAKEN OR CONTEMPLATED: SERGEANT PROCTOR, #13544, ASSUMED SCENE MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES. PHOTOGRAPHS WERE TAKEN. THE TRUCK REGISTRATION INDICATES A RELEASE OF LIABILITY TO A COMPANY OUT OF MEXICO.ICE SEIZED THE VEHICLE PENDING FORFEITURE AND WILL HANDLE THE INVESTIGATION. ACTING COMMANDER, LIEUTENANT M. SHAFFER, #9890, WAS NOTIFIED AS WAS BORDER DIVISION CHIEF S. LYKINS.
The words “Webb County Sheriff” and “911” blazed from the side of the truck, complete with a fake serial number on the tailgate. Authorities confirmed their suspicions that the truck was a fake by contacting the Sheriff’s Office, which said it didn’t have any trucks in the area.
They like to clone TxDOT (Highway Department Trucks)
Authorities with the Texas Department of Transportation also known as TxDOT are alerting their employees and the public about an illegal operation involving drugs and fake TxDOT trucks.
Investigators in south and east Texas have busted two different individuals who they say were using fake TxDOT trucks to smuggle marijuana across the state.
One man was arrested and charged in east Texas near Yokum with drug possession. Other charges are pending.
Authorities were first tipped to the illegal operation last month by an actual TxDOT employee in south Texas near Victoria.
The employee was driving down the highway when he noticed what looked like a TxDOT truck. The employee caught up to the driver and tried to wave at him. But after the driver didn’t wave back the TxDOT employee started noticing that something about the truck wasn’t right.
“The individual had a TxDOT logo on the door which was absolutely correct but it was the reflective stripes on the side of the vehicle as well as the back of the vehicle and the numbering system so we’re happy he got it wrong because it led to his arrest” said Mark Ball, a TxDOT spokesperson out of Dallas.
TXDOT isn’t sure how long the illegal operation has been going on nor do they know how far it extends.
The state agency is warning its employees that they may be pulled over by police just to make sure they’re legitimate.
These incidents generally involve the use of vehicles that have been carefully painted or otherwise made to look like an official company or government vehicle. In a few of the more brazen attempts, smugglers have used vehicles that were nearly identical to those used by Border Patrol, as evidenced by the latest incident in Del Rio, Texas.
The abandoned 18-wheeler found at a northeast Houston truck stop appeared to be part of the H-E-B supermarket chain’s transport fleet.
But investigators on Monday didn’t find a load of fresh produce bound for grocery store shelves when they opened the door. Instead, they uncovered more than 4,400 pounds of marijuana wrapped in tight plastic bundles.
H-E-B officials said they have a ready explanation: The 18-wheeler doesn’t belong to them, regardless of its rather impressive disguise.
“We have no record of that truck at all,” said Cyndy Garza-Robert, a spokeswoman for the San Antonio-based company.
DPS officials said the truck was made up to resemble one of H-E-B’s legitimate long-haul carriers. Called “cloning,” the tactic is fast becoming a favorite for narcotics traffickers hoping to avoid law enforcement scrutiny on the freeways.
“This one was extremely detailed. It would pass almost anyone’s inspection as being an H-E-B truck,” said Lt. Dan Webb, with the Texas Department of Public Safety. “The Mexican (drug) cartels have a lot of sophistication when it comes to cloning. They do their research. They do a very professional job.”
An local grocery truck which didn’t come across the border.
Ton of Marijuana Seized From Cloned UPS Truck in Arizona
Arizona Department of Public Safety Detectives have confiscated about 2,118 pounds of marijuana from a truck that appeared identical to a United Parcel Service truck.
When it just gotta hasta really be there on time, what better way than UPS or FEDEX.
I think you get the idea. When reports talk of “cloned” commercial trucks, they are referring to trucks that are part of our everyday world that wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary and normally wouldn’t be stopped.
35 years in the trucking business and living in Mexico for the past 15 years, make me uniquely qualified to offer my insight and opinion into the Mexican trucking industry and other border issues. A contributor to SiriuxXM Road Dog Channel 106 and to the award winning Lockridge Report, Mexico Trucker Online continues to publish the unvarnished truth about the subjects we cover.