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Credit Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast
SKUNK IN THE TRUNK

Mexican Drug Smugglers High on Ford

Trump’s Wall is an epic fail in the making. Here’s how the Sinaloa Cartel smuggles drugs into the U.S. from a Ford plant in Sonora.

Jeremy Kryt7.22.17 12:01 AM ET

Fresh evidence indicating just how totalmente loco is President Donald Trump’s scheme to build “The Wall” turned up this month at the Ford dealership in Youngstown, Ohio.

That’s where the bales of marijuana were discovered, hidden in a batch of Ford Fusions shipped by rail from the company’s plant in Mexico. A subsequent investigation turned up 17 other loaded Fusions in three other Ohio counties and nearby Pennsylvania. In total, police found 400 pounds of weed between July 7 and 11. That’s more than $1 million which should have gone toward lining cartel pockets, instead of making headlines.

Long maligned for its lack of appeal to young drivers, the Fusion now seems to be trending with a certain demographic. Just not the one Ford had in mind.

So far this year dozens of other Fusions stuffed with hundreds of pounds of skunk in the trunk have been found from Arizona to Minnesota. And since the cars as such are shipped legally, no physical barrier—no matter how tall or transparent Mr. Trump might like it to be—would have kept the stashed cannabis out.

Trade between Mexico and the U.S. accounts for about $580 billion per year, making a long-term shutdown of commercial traffic on the border as loony as the Wall itself.

Fusion Collusion

Ford produces the Fusion at its Hermosillo plant in Mexico’s northern Sonora state. A company spokesperson issued a statement in the wake of the Youngstown discovery, saying Ford was cooperating with the FBI and that “We have confirmed that this is not happening at our plant or at our internal shipping yards.”

The first part of that statement about working with law enforcement might be true, but the second claim almost certainly isn’t.

The pot found in all the vehicles was carefully wrapped in half-moon-shaped packages designed to fit into the spare wheel well. Coffee grounds masked the scent. Aluminum and Saran Wrap used as shielding. The degree of detailed planning, and the uniform use of Fusions from the same facility, likely means an inside job.

A federal law enforcement officer, who agreed to speak to The Daily Beast on background, says the reefer would likely have had to be placed in the vehicles prior to them being loaded onto railcars for transport from the Ford plant.

“The enemy is very agile, they’re dynamic, they’re constantly looking for a loophole,” the officer says, citing what he calls “infiltration from the cartels in the supply chain.”

Automotive workers in Mexico make on average about $50 a week. That leaves them vulnerable to bribes, according to the law enforcement source, who says the conspirators could be anyone from warehouse workers to drivers.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency generally counts on their counterparts in Mexico to inspect vehicles.

On the American side “they don’t open every single vehicle to see what’s inside,” says the officer. “Maybe someone told [the smugglers] these vehicles are pre-cleared.”

Only a tiny fraction of consumer goods coming across the border are screened, which can make them ideal for stowing banned substances. Once on U.S. soil the shipping containers housing narcotics are easily tracked down by stateside accomplices.

In Ford’s case, the likely culprit is the Sinaloa cartel—formerly run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, currently imprisoned in the U.S. Organized crime groups in Mexico are notoriously jealous of their plazas (production and shipping routes), and the Sinaloa syndicate is known to rule Sonora, at least for now.

Trafficking in Traffic

The sheer volume of border traffic makes rigorous policing a pipe dream.

Some 5 million commercial trucks cross the border coming north in a given year, and railway shipments run into the hundreds of millions of tons. So smugglers gamble that even if a few payloads get busted by customs—or, in the case of the Ford Fusions, the intended recipient fails to snag them on the U.S. side—the bulk of them will make it through.

And it’s not just cars that are used as camouflage.

Another preferred tactic of Mexican smugglers is to plant verboten dope in food shipments. Crystal meth, cocaine, and other illicit substances have been found among limes and cucumbers, even inside stacks of tortillas with the centers cut out.

In addition to cleverly disguising contraband, drug trafficking organizations (DTO’s) have shown themselves to be adept tunnel rats, burrowing beneath the border in scores of places, even laying railway lines underground. Other barricade busters include drones, planes, submarines, and catapults.

So the next time you hear POTUS or his followers rave on about their great, big “beautiful” Wall just say “¡No mas!

As for the Ford company, they might want to think up a new slogan. Their current ad campaign urges consumers to “Go further!”

The Sinaloa cartel seems to have done just that.

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