Mark Reddig is on the radio exhorting his listeners that the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico will “destroy” the US trucking industry.
The August issue of OOIDA’s in house rag, LAND LINE is being pimped on the same program with emphasis on their headline story DOT’s DOG & PONY SHOW, an article where they showcase their “expertise” on the southern border from their ivory tower in Grain Valley Missouri, 1000 miles from the source of their concern.
OOIDA has long been using the illogical argument that Mexican trucks should be banned from the US because they “might” bring drugs, illegals, WMD’s and terrorists into this country. Hogwash! Yet they gloss over and largely ignore a recently released report from Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police Intelligence Division showing that the problem is not restricted to the southern border exclusively.
The trucking industry employs over 400,000 people in Canada, and the average fulltime driver earns $858 a week. The industry is dominated by small for-hire carriers and independent owner/operators whose main role is to haul freight for others.
These drivers are most vulnerable, because they are striving for economic viability due to the recession, more competition, and stricter new security and environmental rules. “This is an enriched opportunity for organized crime to offer financial incentives to supplement flagging incomes,” the report notes. The industry was also hit hard by skyrocketing gas prices last year.
The report also warns of a middleman broker who serves as the key link between criminal groups and truck drivers. This person is a specialist who recruits, pays, and sometimes terrorizes truckers into carrying illicit drugs, cash, and illegal migrants.
Money spent to transport illicit cargo is a small cost of doing business for criminal groups, but is a “significant incentive” for drivers. For example, a trucker can be paid $28,000 to move $12 million worth of cocaine from California to Montreal.
Besides cocaine and cash, the cargo can include illicit tobacco, marihuana, ephedrine, and Ecstasy, which are often packed in increasingly sophisticated compartments built into tractor trailers. Moving large amounts of cash may be the criminals’ peak of success, showing a high level of trust and elevated status. (Cocaine is the illicit product most often caught entering Canada at the border, while marijuana is the drug most often trucked within the country.)
Loads are often guaranteed, sometimes with money provided up front by the transporters. The trucker criminal “specialists” are held responsible for illicit cargo that has been lost, stolen or seized, often resulting in a nightmarish cost.
“For illicit cargo that is missing, the transporter is expected to provide compensation or risk harsh consequences, including extortion and violence,” the report says. “Violence associated to lost cargo includes beatings, kidnapping, and murder.
“Discipline is usually meted out from within the transportation group at the behest of the larger criminal organization or to deal with internal disputes. Loads stolen or seized from drivers provide leverage for further exploitation by crime groups, often resulting in an indentured arrangement in which the driver is drawn further into the criminal activity and required to move illicit commodities at no cost, to fulfill the debt.”
The ease by which trucking companies can be formed makes the industry especially attractive, which leads to a continued proliferation of “illicit trucking companies.” Criminal groups conceal their illicit activities through layers of company ownerships, name changes, transfers and disclosures.
They benefit from fragmented regulatory oversight, which is so complex that it is difficult for police to track at what point in the chain the criminal activity occurs. “Organized crime groups own and operate trucking companies in relative autonomy, without close government or industry scrutiny,” and all these factors give them a “considerable advantage” over the police.
Trucking crime occurs in every region. Three quarters of truck traffic that crosses the Canada-U.S. border pass through Ontario and Quebec, which have about 31,500 owner/operators. Most of the criminal groups the RCMP examined have companies based in Brampton and Mississauga.
Although British Columbia and Yukon (with 7,400 owner/operators) accounts for just 10 per cent of the cross-border truck traffic, B.C. is a major source for marijuana growing and export, and cocaine enters B.C. in multi-million dollar amounts.
More interdictions of commercial trucks means a short term inconvenience for criminals, forcing their shift to other modes, such as aircraft, boat, or the movement of more frequent and smaller loads. Doing so in private vehicles and rentals will increase the importance of warehousing.
Moreover, since smaller companies are finding cross-border trade less affordable (which some experts say might even challenge their ability to stay in business), criminal specialists may find ways to infiltrate and compromise larger trucking companies, in order to keep transporting their cargo abroad.
So again, where’s the outrage from OOIDA and other opponents of Cross Border Trucking? Where’s the demand to close the northern border to the drugs and who knows what else crossing the largely unsecured northern border?
In February, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, the two top senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee stated;
“The Department of Homeland Security has concluded that the risk of terrorist activity across our northern border is actually higher than across our southern border. The DHS could do a better job of border defense. The report also finds that less than 1 percent of the border is under operational control – less than 1 percent of our northern border.”
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and committee chairman, said that the lack of a strong defense along the northern border is “absolutely alarming” and that it leaves the American public “grossly underprotected” from terrorist attacks, drug smugglers and other illegal activity.
Again, where’s the outrage and demands to close the northern border and send the Canadian trucks back to Canada?
The Canadian trucking industry moves more than 70 per cent of goods into Canada from the United States and employs 400,000 people. Almost three-quarters of the cross-border traffic passes through points in Ontario and Quebec, which have close to 31,500 owner-operators, according to the report. This is far more than the 1,065 “certificated” or “legacy” carriers from Mexico, grandfathered in after the 1982 foreign carrier exclusion order was signed and significantly more than the approximately 25,000 Mexican trucks with OP-2 authority that operate exclusively within our commercial zones on the southern border.
MOVING CONTRABAND ACROSS THE SOUTHERN BORDER
OOIDA and others claim that the majority of contraband smuggled across the southern border comes by truck. Simply not true, as any CBP or Border Patrol official will tell you.
You see trucks impounded at the interior BP checkpoints, all of them US trucks driven by US truckers. Indeed, the RCMP report states truckers contracted to run a load of cocaine from California to Montreal enjoy a payday of $28,000 or more. The criminal organizations don’t need threats to find truckers willing to take the risk for a payday like that. Nor do they have any problem finding truckers running off the southern border looking for a little easy money, without considering the risks involved.
A good example of this can be found by reading the Border Patrols weekly blotters.
San Diego Sector – Border Patrol agents seized 35.5 pounds of methamphetamine, a Chrysler sedan, and arrested a United States Citizen (USC) at the traffic checkpoint near Pine Valley, California.
Marfa Sector – Border Patrol agents seized a small amount of marijuana, a Cadillac sedan, a .38 caliber pistol, a .22 caliber rifle, 580 rounds of ammunition, and arrested two USCs at the traffic checkpoint near Sierra Blanca, Texas. Records checks revealed the handgun was reported stolen.
Rio Grande Valley Sector – Border Patrol agents seized 1,093 pounds of marijuana and a Chevrolet Suburban near Los Ebanos, Texas.
Rio Grande Valley Sector – Border Patrol agents seized 3,762 pounds of marijuana, a tractor-trailer, and arrested a USC at the traffic checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas. A Border Patrol canine alerted to the trailer and a subsequent search by agents uncovered the marijuana.
Rio Grande Valley Sector – Border Patrol agents seized a cargo truck and arrested a USC and 12 illegal aliens from Mexico at the traffic checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas. A Border Patrol canine alerted to the vehicle and a subsequent search by agents uncovered the illegal aliens.
Laredo Sector – Border Patrol agents arrested two nationals of Mexico, seven illegal aliens and seized a tractor-trailer at the traffic checkpoint near Laredo, Texas. The nationals of Mexico presented themselves for inspection and a Border Patrol canine alerted to the vehicle. A subsequent search by agents uncovered the illegal aliens concealed within the tractor.
Laredo Sector – Border Patrol agents seized 1,373 pounds of marijuana and a Ford truck near Laredo, Texas.
Rio Grande Valley Sector – Border Patrol agents seized 11,803 pounds of marijuana, a tractor-trailer, and arrested a USC at the traffic checkpoint near Falfurrias, Texas.
Only one instance of a Mexican national smuggling illegals, and those two will serve their time and be deported permanently with their visas revoked for life.
A “USC” is a United States Citizen for purposes of clarification.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you consider the incidents CBP was involved in on one weekend in the San Diego Sector.
At about 3:15 a.m. on Friday, July 22, a 37-year-old male Mexican citizen driving a blue 1988 Mitsubishi pickup truck arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry. The CBP officer referred the vehicle and driver for a more intensive screening; CBP officers screened the vehicle with an imaging device, similar to an x-ray, and detected anomalies with the pickup. CBP officers examined the vehicle and found 64 packages of marijuana, weighing a total of about 106 pounds, hidden in the sides of the truck bed, in the tail gate, and in the vehicle quarter panels.
At about 6:00 a.m. Friday, July 22, a 42-year-old male Mexican citizen drove a gray 1994 Ford Aerostar to the San Ysidro port of entry. The CBP officer referred the driver and vehicle for an intensive inspection. A CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted. CBP officers found eight packages of marijuana, weighing a total of eight pounds, hidden on top of the spare tire, which was suspended in its normal location under the vehicle.
At about 3 p.m. on Friday, July 22, a 28-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a 1996 Ford Explorer arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry. While the driver was waiting in the lanes of traffic to approach the inspection booth, a CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted. CBP officers inspected the vehicle and found 19 packages of methamphetamine hidden under the floor of the vehicle, weighing about 27 pounds.
At about 3:15 p.m. on Friday, July 22, a 19-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a 1994 Nissan Maxima arrived at the San Ysidro border crossing. While the driver was talking with the CBP officer during her inspection, a CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted. Upon conducting a further inspection, CBP officers found eight packages of marijuana, weighing almost 13 pounds, hidden inside the vehicle’s dashboard.
At about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, July 25, a 28-year-old female U.S. citizen driving a silver 2001 Mitsubishi Montero arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry. The CBP officer referred the vehicle and driver for a more intensive screening, and CBP officers screened the vehicle with an imaging device, similar to an x-ray, and detected anomalies in the spare tire. A CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog also screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted. CBP officer removed 17 packages of marijuana, weighing a total of almost 85 pounds, from the spare tire.
At about 9:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22, a 22-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a silver 1999 Dodge Intrepid arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry. While the driver was waiting in the lanes of traffic to approach the inspection booth, a CBP officer with a narcotic detector dog screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted. CBP officers screened the vehicle with an imaging device, similar to an x-ray, and noticed anomalies behind the back seat of the vehicle. CBP officers removed the vehicle’s back seat and discovered a compartment with 14 packages of marijuana, weighing about 37 pounds total, hidden inside.
At about 5 p.m. Sunday, July 24, a 44-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a 2004 Chevy Silverado arrived at the border crossing in downtown Calexico. The CBP officer noted that the driver appeared nervous, and when inspecting the vehicle, tapped the gas tank and found it to be suspicious. CBP officers examined the vehicle further, including screening the vehicle with a narcotic detector dog, which alerted to the vehicle. CBP officers discovered 69 vacuum-sealed packages of marijuana hidden in the gas tank, weighing a total of about 155 pounds.
Now to be fair to OOIDA, the did make “mention” of the RCMP report, spinning it to their liking, especially where the FAST (Free & Secure Trade) card is concerned. FAST, C-TPAT nor any of the other customs programs such as ACE, “speed” anyone through entry inspection procedures. They merely streamline the procedures by offering assurances that the person presenting the documents are in fact that person, negating the need, generally, for more intense inspection of identification.
But again, where’s the outrage from OOIDA over our non secure northern border and the outcry to call your Congressmen, flood the switchboards in DC and demand the Canadians be ejected and the border sealed?
Ahh, the hypocrisy! The MP’s in Ottawa, their allies at OBAC and others would never stand for it. If anyone recalls when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was implemented in 2007, Canada immediately whined and protested to Washington resulting in Canadian residents being given a waiver of sorts. In place of a passport, an enhanced drivers license is all that is needed for most Canadians to enter this country. And nobody considers all of the “New Canadians”, the name given to Canadian immigrants, many from middle eastern Muslim countries who have flocked to Canada in recent years, and have the same free access to the United States as other Canadian citizens. As I recall, wasn’t it Muslims that attacked the United States on September 11? I don’t think they came from Mexico although quite a number of Mexican citizens lost their lives in the attacks on the twin towers?
Again, where’s the outrage instead of the hypocrisy?
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.