According to a report from a Minnesota news outlet, Mexican drug smugglers and their American co-conspirators are using imported Ford Fusions to ferry marijuana across the border.
The news follows recent drug busts in the state, with suspicion growing that the $1.4 million in weed found in 22 Fusions bound for dealerships is part of a larger smuggling ring.
Alpha News cites a St. Paul Police Department investigation that began after a narcotics call from that city’s Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad vehicle holding lot. A contractor working for the railroad had discovered 80 pounds of the green stuff in the trunks of two Fusions, hidden below the spare tire cover, the SPPD report states.
The February 10th discovery was made as the contractor was loading vehicles onto trailers for delivery. Most of the train’s 15-vehicle shipment, however, had already scattered to dealers.
One 86-year-old Fusion buyer from Rochester, Minnesota, soon discovered 50 pounds of marijuana in the same hiding place. When authorities located the remaining vehicles, each was discovered with 40 to 60 pounds of pot in the spare tire well, often with an added product (like coffee grounds) to mask the pungent scent. Three of the Fusions were already on the rental lot at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, the report claims.
Last month, authorities in Dilworth, Minnesota, were contacted byÂ Burlington Northern Sante Fe employees after the discovery of similar crescent-shaped bags of marijuana in seven Fusions arriving from Mexico. In its report, SPPD explained that BNSF believes the drugs are loaded into the cars before leaving the country. Once the train arrives in the U.S., dealers would then break into the train car and recover the clandestine cargo.
Apparently, “this was an ongoing problem for [BNSF],” Rochester Police Detective John Sherwin told Alpha News, based on information gathered from St. Paul authorities.
To avoid detection, it would appear the shipments are placed in the Fusions following quality inspection at Ford’s Hermosillo stamping and assembly plant. Evidence points to the involvement of a Mexican Ford employee.
“The plant assembly employees sometimes only make $50 USD a week, leaving a huge window for bribery,â€� an unnamed 13-year industry veteran told the publication. â€œItâ€™s not unheard of for impoverished foreign nationals to take payoffs, especially since what the cartels can pay may equal a yearâ€™s worth of wages or if they threaten the employee or their family.”
Alpha News claims it was contacted by a Ford sales person in Minnesota who reported an after-hours police raid on February 9th. During the search, police allegedly recovered 70 pounds of weed from a Fusion and Lincoln MKZ.
Mexican drug cartels routinely make use of unguarded channels like this, with one groupÂ â€” the Sinaloa cartel of ‘El Chapo’ fameÂ â€” being the most prolific in the region. Harder drugs and weapons flow through the same channels. For now, Ford’s problems seem relegated to grass, but you can expect there will be quite a few more spare tire inspections upon delivery.[Image: Ford Motor Company]