A Cross Border Experience with a Mexican Trucker

Mexican cross border drayage carrierWe’ve all heard from the opponents of cross border trucking with Mexico how the Mexicans get a “free ride” at the border, not having to undergo inspections as they enter their country in their “dangerous, broken down trucks from junkyards in the United States and how the Mexican truckers are all “coked up cowboys” with no respect for the laws on either side of the border. Most of us know better, including Senior Field Correspondent Mónica Ortiz Uribe from Fronteras Desk, who recently took a trip with a Mexican trucker across the US – Mexico border in Cd. Juarez. Her full report can be read HERE. And as she made the crossing, and experienced the delays that a Mexican trucker encounters in his typical day, pulling freight from the factories in Mexico to the warehouse on the US side, she TWEETED her experience. The 20 mile trip took them 5 hours.

     Alejandro Rivera is a big rig trucker who chauffeurs goods between the U.S.-Mexico border for an American logistics company based in El Paso, Texas. On a good day he’ll accomplish two round-trips, rarely adding more than 70 miles to his odometer.

     Rivera began his daily routine at a factory in the Mexican border city of Juárez. Before departing he called his dispatcher and noted the time.

     On this particular trip Rivera carried a load of plastic mannequins. They’re made by factory workers in Juárez who earn $10 a day. Rivera’s job is to transport them to a warehouse in El Paso about 20 miles away. From there the mannequins will ship across the U.S. to stores like Nike and JC Penney.

     When Rivera reached U.S. Customs on the American side of the border bridge, an officer ordered his truck to be X-Rayed. Afterward an officer unloaded half his cargo and inspected the trailer for anything illegal.

     The company Rivera works for has a special certification called C-TPAT that usually allows their trucks expedited passage. Only about 1 percent of the company’s cargo goes through lengthy searches. Before, when Rivera worked for a non-certified company, he said he faced prolonged inspections everyday.

     All commercial traffic at this particular crossing must clear four separate agencies: Mexican customs, American customs, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Public Safety. In total Rivera clocked in two and half hours at the bridge.

“Sometimes the customer doesn’t understand all the process that we have to make,” Rivera said. “They want their load.”


Mexican cross border drayage carrierIt’s not just at that particular crossing that a truck from Mexico must clear four separate agencies, but at all commercial border crossing coming into the United States from Mexico. The latter two obstacles a legacy of one of the laws opponents of Mexican trucks were able to have passed by their allies in Congress, mandating permanent scales and inspection facilities at all commercial crossings.

So anyone that is thinking the Mexicans are getting a free ride and waivers of our rules, laws and regulations as some have suggested, need to think again, as we’ve proved here time and again.


As background on this article, I looked at FMCSA data on this cross border drayage carrier. Modern, safe, late model tractor? Most certainly. Clean, professional driver at the wheel? Without a doubt. But looking at the SMS BASIC scores of this carrier reveals how data collected by the FMCSA though their Motor Carrier Safety Measurement System unfairly portrays this carrier as unsafe an incompetent.

The carrier is TECMA, based out of Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua but with an office of course in El Paso Texas which is probably their agent of service. They operate under USDOT#2197915.

The carrier operates 8 trucks employing 9 drivers. In the 24 months ending 06/04/2013, their trucks and drivers had been inspected 250 times. Their vehicle Out of Service rate was 6% compared to the US average of 20.72%. They had a Driver Out of Service rate of 0.04%. The national US average for this is 5.51%. They had no reportable accidents during this time period. This data is obtained from safersys.org. All in all, a safe and compliant Mexican motor carrier as we’ve come to expect from the Mexicans.

However, when we move over to the new FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Measurement System we find the same data as mentioned above, but the carrier above the intervention threshold in two of the five BASICS. VEHICLE MAINTENANCE at 94.7% and in DRIVER FITNESS, 97.0%…

Anybody care to guess why the high score in the DRIVER FITNESS BASIC?  If you said violation of 391.11(b)(2) “Non English Speaking Driver” you would have been correct. Out of 250 inspections, 24 times times the drivers were warned, not cited for not being in compliance with that rule by USDOT inspectors, not Texas DPS, but USDOT. Violation of 391.11(b)(2) meets criteria for being put Out of Service.

In regards to the violations listed in the VEHICLE MAINTENANCE BASIC, it’s the usual. No reflective tape on the trailers, a marker light out and the all time Texas “gotcha”, 393.45(b)(2) “Failing to secure brake hose/tubing against mechanical damage”.

But according to the groups website, TECMA is being proactive in resolving these issues. According to a press release posted on May 17, 2013;

Tecma Transportation recently purchased four new International ProStar trucks. International ProStars are fuel efficient, class 8 commercial vehicles that are powered by Maxxforce engines. In addition to making this equipment available to its growing Mexican and U.S. clientele, TTS has also procured twenty-five new fifty-three foot “air-ride” trailers. The air suspension that is built into these conveyances assures that customers’ cargo arrives at its destination without damage due to road vibration, as is sometimes the case when shippers’ vehicles are equipped with leaf spring suspension systems.

Tecma Transportation Services (TTS) is part of  The Tecma Group of Companies of El Paso, Texas which has over 30 years of experience in the transportation industry.

Photo Credits – Mónica Ortiz Uribe, FRONTERAS DESK


This post is part of the thread: Mexico Trucking – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.