GREEN MA­CHINES

Weekend Courier - - Driveway - Bill Buys

BUY a Ford Fu­sion (Mon­deo in Aus­tralia) in the US and you might get quite a sur­prise when you check the boot.

A re­cent ship­ment of Fu­sions from Ford’s Her­mosillo plant in Mex­ico came with­out spare wheels – in place were packs of mar­i­juana, shaped to per­fectly fit into the wheel well.

The weed was un­cov­ered by a deal­er­ship in Youngstown, Ohio, where the cars had been de­liv­ered.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors then found more mar­i­juana blocks in at least 14 other ve­hi­cles at Ohio deal­er­ships. In to­tal, au­thor­i­ties seized packs of pot val­ued at $1.26 mil­lion. And that was only in Ohio.

Then more Fu­sions with the same cargo were found at deal­er­ships in other states.

Three more drug-packed cars ended up at a car rental out­let at St Paul Air­port in Min­neapo­lis, and there could be many more, still undis­cov­ered, else­where in the coun­try. Each car had about 20kg of mar­i­juana in the wheel wells.

The pack­ages were worked into half-moon shapes with two in each spare tire wheel well.

A few months ago, sim­i­larly equipped Made in Mex­ico Fu­sions were re­ported in Ari­zona and Min­nesota.

The cars ar­rive in the US aboard rail car­riages and drug en­force­ment agents say the pack­ages should have been re­trieved on the US side, but in these par­tic­u­lar cases the pick-ups never took place.

Ford said the drugs were not placed in cars in­side its Mex­ico plant and it was work­ing with the FBI and cus­toms on an ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion (CBP) re­lies heav­ily on pre-im­por­ta­tion elec­tronic screen­ing, which re­views the ship­ment in­for­ma­tion in a gov­ern­ment data­base and then iden­ti­fies whether it is to be X-ray or phys­i­cally in­spected.

But one CBP of­fi­cer claimed only 4 per cent of com­mer­cial ship­ments were ac­tu­ally in­spected, leav­ing a huge op­por­tu­nity for drugs, weapons and peo­ple smug­gling into the US.

Above: Can't ar­gue with that sig­nage. Be­low: Po­lice at Dil­worth, Min­nesota show what they found in the new Fu­sions.

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