By on April 26, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion Sport

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 by 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,” an unnamed 13-year industry veteran told the publication. “It’s not unheard of for impoverished foreign nationals to take payoffs, especially since what the cartels can pay may equal a year’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 group — the Sinaloa cartel of ‘El Chapo’ fame — 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]

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64 Comments on “Cross-border Drug Smugglers are Using Ford Fusions as Mules: Report...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    LOL! Ford has a better idea! Quality is Job 1.

  • avatar
    Hooligans

    Fusion Highbrid.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    For this to work right, there should be a BNSF contact to alert the smugglers on the US side to the exact time and location that the pot can be unloaded from the rail cars. It looks like the cars that were delivered with the extra goods in the spare tire well were not intercepted in time to off load the cargo. Tricky timing problem!

    • 0 avatar
      Malforus

      Or the pick up people alerted their people that the pipeline had been compromised so they just walked away from the most recent delivery.

      Rather than get popped they have to abandon that method and pivot.

    • 0 avatar
      asapuntz

      Given the amount of work required stateside, I think the Hermosillo labor costs are a bit of a red herring.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Trump was right after all – Fusions should be built in the US.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    So… is this WHAT the workers are doing instead of properly aligning the fenders and interior trim panels, or does it explain WHY they can’t seem to line ’em up right?

    (Yes, panel fitment is a major sticking point for me with the Fusion.)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      To be fair, aligning panels is old-school. Good design means that manual alignment of parts is minimized or eliminated. Slots and oversized holes only invite *misalignment* on bad days.

      Clever no-alignment-necessary simplifies assembly, so that outsourcing the labor means you require less training to produce a good product.

      So basically, I’d blame Ford’s designers if your panels are cockeyed.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Not “my” panels, because as much as I want to like the Fusion Sport, the haphazard assembly is enough to turn me off from ever owning one.

        I do agree that Ford’s designers likely shoulder most of the blame for the issue, though.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Legalize weed and this isn’t an issue anymore.

    Or is continuing to enrich the Mexican drug cartels part of the MAGA plan?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      FWIW, the President has expressed support for medical marijuana and believes recreational use should be decided by the states.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The President is not in the driver’s seat on this issue. That would be the Attorney General he chose, who is an old-fashioned, ’80s-style drug warrior and has several times expressed his wish to increase enforcement. Expect to see federal prosecutions of recreational users (and sellers) from states where it’s legal under state law in the near future.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          dal20402, “federal prosecutions of recreational users (and sellers) from states where it’s legal under state law” is already underway in surrounding states.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          This is also likely.

        • 0 avatar
          operagost

          Um, the president can issue executive orders to the DEA, for example, any time he chooses.

          This is why Obama 50/50 shares responsibility for having done nothing about the unconscionable drug war. He could have ordered the DEA to ignore cannabis, he could have ordered it removed from Schedule I, he could have ordered the DOJ not to prosecute. He did nothing.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            He was really busy and didn’t have the time to craft something in between nines.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The last president could have done more, but he did instruct DOJ and DEA to leave small-scale recreational marijuana more or less alone. The president can’t order a drug listed in the original Controlled Substances Act removed from Schedule I; that would take an act of Congress. (Such an act would also abrogate a treaty to which the US is a signatory.)

            This president has shown no inclination to touch the issue, leaving the field for his AG. Perhaps that’s because he has spent considerably more time on the course than the last president.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            operagost, I would expect the enforcement of existing laws on the books to be much more prevalent under Trump than at any time in the past.

            I would not look for any pardons from Trump either. Trump may have heart, but he is a hardline kinda guy against criminals.

            And I would expect the war on drugs to take a relentless turn for the harsher during Trump.

            Just in MY area, Federal Law Enforcement is working 24/7 rounding up and throwing out criminal illegal aliens. They have an operations center established inside a US Army Post and fan out from there on their raids.

            Good stuff! I watched their black Tahoes deploy last Thursday, as they do every day, when I was on Post.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @dal20402 – treaties are one thing that limit changes to drug laws. The Federal Liberal Party in Canada ran for election on the premise that they would immediately legalize cannabis. They found that they could not due to international treaties. The other issue’s are the licencing and certification of legal growers and then distribution. One then finally can change the laws covering enforcement and legalization.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ LouBC, In the states that have legalized it the way that it worked was the voters legalized it and then the gov’t was given a timeline to figure out the other parts.

            In WA it resulted in a interesting situation for the time period between it being legalized and it being legal to purchase. It was fully legal to have “processed” product but illegal to grow it, sell it, buy it, pick it up off the ground,give it to or take it from another person. So pretty much you had to just “find” it in your pocket or under your pillow as a gift from the weed fairy.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I highly doubt we will see federal prosecutions of users in our state, it just isn’t worth it. I could see them going after growers, processors, and retailers but they have no clue as to how much of a stink that would raise. Our state is ready to fight that should it occur with our AG and Governor ready for battle. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/marijuana/washington-state-will-resist-federal-crackdown-on-legal-weed-ag-ferguson-says/

          It is funny how much the opponents say ending legalization is to fight crime when it was legalization that eliminated a lot of the crime, made our neighborhoods and schools safer, freed up our police and justice system to worry about other things and is providing the gov’t a good revenue stream.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            In our state, Scoutdude, I think you may be right, depending on whether Jeff Sessions is paying attention. If he isn’t, I’m sure Annette Hayes will be happy to focus on other things. If he is paying attention, he may order prosecutions, exactly to stir up the fight you’re talking about — fighting with “those dirty hippies in Seattle” is very much a political winner for Trump’s base, even as it’s a loser with everyone else.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I expect that OR, CO and AK would join the fight as they don’t want to loose the tax revenue and the other benefits that came with legalization. Of course many people probably think of those in OR and CO as just a bunch of dirty hippies too, while those in AK other than oil workers are probably considered even worse.

            Since the other states haven’t actually started retail sales I can see them and would be growers and retailers taking a wait and see approach before they get too far.

            Now DC on the other hand, I can see federal prosecution of possession of the smallest amount if for no other reason than a show of power.

            While fighting with those dirty hippies would certainly play to much of Trump’s base, they probably aren’t going to look favorably on the cost to do so.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Scoutdude – evidence from the USA also indicates that there hasn’t been a huge increase in the number of people using recreational cannabis. People now can do what they have already been doing in a legal fashion.

            The focus should be on fentanyl not cannabis.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Leave it to the states to decide.” Translation: “I don’t want to deal with it.”

        I don’t think Trump cares if weed’s legal or not. But the power brokers in his party definitely do, for some inexplicable reason.

        (Well, I can think of explanations, but I’d rather this thread stay polite.)

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          One of Trump’s promises was to stop the illegal drugs from entering the US.

          If he doesn’t keep his promises, Trump is toast in 2020, and maybe even in 2018 for the mid-term.

          With Sessions as AG, you can bet Law Enforcement is going to be high on the list of priorities.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            Seems we could very easily stop 100% of the flow of illegal drugs into the US through the simple expedient of making all drugs legal.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Logically, bikegoesbaa, you don’t want stuff like heroin or cocaine to be legal – those are truly dangerous drugs. But in the end, weed’s not all that harmful. It’s certainly no more dangerous than alcohol. There’s no longer any reason to criminalize it.

            Put differently: legalize it, and tax it, and not only do you put a nice-sized dent in the bad, bad hombres’ wallets, but you have a potential source of revenue for the all-important Border Wall. What say you, Trump supporters?

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            Cocaine and heroin are dangerous drugs, but still not as dangerous as the massive problems created by making them illegal.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            There’s way too much corruption within the Border Patrol, too much drug money, too much temptation. A background check only goes so far. As if drug traffickers never have a squeaky clean record or US Citizens.

            Trump’s only problem with the smuggling of drugs is they’re “imports!”

            Then there’s “private prisons”. The whole thing stinks.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ FreedMike, agree the financial benefit is potentially huge, not only from tax revenues, but decreased spending on enforcement that has shown to be completely unsuccessful.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @la834 – one needs to address why people turn to drugs in the first place. Mental health and addiction services are woefully inadequate even in Canada with socialized medical coverage.

            Cocaine and heroine are an issue but I believe that methamphetamine’s, prescribed opioids, and illegal fentanyl are much bigger problem.

            In BC where I live, a recent news report stated that fentanyl overdose deaths have “stabilized” at 110-120 deaths per month. Stabilized? WTF? That is in a province with 4.6 million people.

          • 0 avatar
            bikegoesbaa

            “Logically, bikegoesbaa, you don’t want stuff like heroin or cocaine to be legal – those are truly dangerous drugs.”

            No, I emphatically *do* want those to be legal.

            The majority of the social harm from them comes from their illegality. People aren’t committing robber and murder for alcohol now; but they routinely did back when it was illegal.

            Most of the medical harm of “hard drugs” comes from the batch variability and mystery stuff they’re cut with.

            I submit that if you could buy cocaine and heroin of known strength and purity at CVS for $20/lb then about 95% of the problems associated with them would disappear.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “There’s way too much corruption within the Border Patrol,”

            I don’t think that’s an accurate claim, but if it is, that’s where competent supervision comes in to play.

            Even though there is a lot of temptation, I am not aware of any substantiated corruption that has been documented.

            If anything, compassion has let many illegals pass into the US for refuge, sanctuary and opportunity.

            Don’t forget the two-man and three-man concept of patrolling don’t leave much room for corruption. And then there’s always the radio, dispatch and that GPS-locator system. Not to mention all the cameras and sensors.

            But even if there was corruption, the measures already in place would easily ferret out irregularities in the sector.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Examples of Border Patrol corruption and caught/fired/prosecuted agents aren’t hard to find. Do a search and you’ll be amazed!

            Clearly it’s the most corrupt agency we have. Mostly BP Agent indictments don’t gain national attention. I wonder why…

            Criminal agents can work with their partner two-agent teams.

            There were two agents that were caught shooting an illegal in the butt after not reporting the incident to supervisors. The illegal escaped capture, slipped back to Mexico and had just a superficial wound.

            Seemed like a normal misdeed/oversight/reprimand. They went to trial and each got 10 years in prison…

            WTF?

            A lot of things didn’t add up in the case sealed from the public. Why was the media banned? Was the US government trying to hide something??

            What else, what other cases are the hiding? I looked into the case of the two bad BP agents and the drug trafficker they shot while he was trying to flee, one of the agents was best friends with him, growing up in Mexico.

            Turns out the one agent was born in the US and went back to Mexico as an infant, probably his parents were migrant workers, and long story short, he eventually came back to the US and became a Border Patrol Agent. One of the agents is named Campeon or something.

            The story is out there, although some of the details are sketchy. Believe me, I’m not smart enough to make this stuff up!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @HDC – I edited the above post to clarify events, but I started gathering details from the media as the story was breaking, and long before the trial, but right after the agents arrests.

            The media, Fox, CNN, etc, didn’t know exactly what to make of it. Eventually certain things were suppressed and never repeated, like the agent’s childhood friendship with the illegal alien, drug trafficker. Again, I wonder why…

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            DenverMike, yeah, I remember the cases you mentioned but there is a much larger story behind them.

            You may recall that my #3 son went to work as a Supervisory Border Patrol Agent after he retired from the US Army as a Lt Col, years ago.

            And I also remember Fast&Furious when Eric Holder was AG. There was some weird schit going on during the past eight years with Customs&Border Patrol.

            But that didn’t make the individuals corrupt. Most of them just wanted to do their job, as they had been trained to do. If bad policy came down from above……

            But now that there is a new President, a new administration, and most importantly of all — a new AG, and Gen Kelly at DHS, the policies of the past will change.

            At least I hope so. Deportations are up. Illegal incursions are down.

            More illegals crossing the border into Canada than coming into the US. That’s a good thing. Nay! It’s great!

            Interesting to note that the Border Patrol overwhelmingly supported Trump before and after the election.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I agree that if it were legally grown stateside, it wouldn’t be really worth it to smuggle.

      But, then we’d find bags of heroin or meth instead. I whole heartedly agree that if the DEA truly focused on hardcore drugs, and stopped worrying about stoners, we could end or significantly reduce the drug-related issues our country suffers from.

      You aren’t going to get murdered by a stoner on his way to buy a dime bag with the change he found in his Cutlass Ciera. You can easily be murdered by a meth zombie who’s been up several days and has exhausted his supply of drugs and money.

      I think of that family that was murdered near Citronelle, Al. a few months back. Guy admitted he was up for days prior to the shootings. Their crime was harboring his girlfriend who left him due to his usage.

      If you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go rent a Fusion. ;) LOL

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The thing is back here in WA there has been a drop in drunk driving arrests and lower numbers of opiate over doses.

        In general it has been my experience that stoners are pretty benign but the same can’t be said for the black market growers and sellers. In the past it was normal to hear that guns were found in grow houses. The fact is those grow houses were in neighborhoods all over. Instead of going to a weed store to purchase in a well lit camera filled store people were meeting at the 7-11, McDonald’s, or neighborhood park. Last summer there was a story about a family somewhere in the midwest that were all murdered in the night across the county and when the police investigated there was evidence of a large growing operation. So the black market for marijuana is a threat to our society.

        As I’ve mentioned before in the RE business I found lots of homes that had been grow sites come up for sale. One was just a couple of blocks down the street from the HS my kids went to and another that was just blocks from the friend of my son’s and his physics teacher in a nice not exactly cheap neighborhood. Those were far from the only ones I ran across in nice, or formerly nice homes, it what most people would describe as nice respectable neighborhoods.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “You can easily be murdered by a meth zombie who’s been up several days and has exhausted his supply of drugs and money”

        If meth was legal and cheap you wouldn’t have this problem. You probably wouldn’t even see this guy, as he’d be safely at home doing cheap meth.

        If you could buy legal meth for the cost of M+Ms what meth head would waste time with murdering people?

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    So it this any different than Exxon doing it?

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Question for manufacturing folks… Why don’t the reflections flow smoothly across the two side doors on the Fusion pictured? There is a clear disconnect near the edges. Is it because the stamping process can’t produce perfectly straight results?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It’s probably an issue with the design. A very similar car (Kia Optima, shown here), doesn’t seem to exhibit the discontinuity you noticed on the Fusion:

      http://95octane.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2016_kia_optima_3.jpg

      Interestingly, this Fusion has the same problem you observed:

      https://preview2.netcarshow.com/Ford-Fusion_V6_Sport-2017-1600-19.jpg

      With CAD, you can check a multi-part shape for reflection interruptions and fix the design. After 3000 years of metalworking experience, we certainly know how to produce a flat panel, so in this case, I blame the designers.

      • 0 avatar
        Cactuar

        Thanks SCE to AUX, good observations about the Kia and Fusion.

        Yes I’m aware of the CAD diagnostic tools, I use zebra stripes often to check my models at work. It’s usually not an issue to make a smooth surface in CAD. I believe the disconnect lies between the design and manufacturing folks. There are probably some tricks the designers can use when preparing their surfaces for die making, to prevent the metal from pinching, bouncing or flexing. Or maybe the issue stems from when metal is folded to create the edges.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Hmmmm. Maybe I should go poking around the spare tire of my VW Sportwagen.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    “One 86-year-old Fusion buyer from Rochester, Minnesota, soon discovered 50 pounds of marijuana in the same hiding place.”

    Sounds like his Pre-delivery Inspection was less than thorough.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    The Ford Fusion really smokes the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      One could say it blazes Accord and Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        I’ve long wondered if Chevrolet changed the name of its old SUV from Blazer to Trailblazer to disassociate it from the druggy connotation of “blaze”

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          And yet, the Blazer is coming back (at least, that’s what I’ve heard) as a mid-size three-row CUV, the Chevy version of the Acadia.

          • 0 avatar
            la834

            I chalk that us simplay to times having changed since then, the same reason “Demon” was problematic in the early ’70s but not now.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “The Ford Fusion really smokes the competition.”

      Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, DUDE! It’s not even a best seller! Check this out.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/most-popular-best-selling-car-us-state-2017-4

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        But it is, its #18 on the top 30 best selling vehicle (all vehicle types) list that Tim has for March 2017.

        Its within the top 5 selling midsize cars as of March 2017 as well. It isn’t THE best seller, but it is A best seller.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          LOL! Reminds me of the “Top 5 Pickup trucks to own” article I read.

          Since there are only 5 sold in the US, that was also a bogus claim.

          However, some people buy into that marketing hype.

          But if a Ford Fusion smokes anything, it’s on fire. Crack pipe.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    Ooooo! I took delivery of a MKZ from the same plant a couple of months ago. I’m heading to the garage now to see if I have a ‘surprise’ waiting for me. If I don’t post anything for a few weeks you’ll know I hit gold!

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I have to wonder why in the world the guy whose job is to move cars around the lot was looking under the carpet in the trunk. I can see no good reason that he should even open the trunk. I guess he could have smelled it but if that is the case you would think the lot boys who washed the cars that were delivered or were on lots would have caught it, or maybe he just thought he was catching a whiff of his stash in his pocket.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    If I was paid $50 weekly for 40 hours of work I’d be looking to supplement my income too.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I know a guy from Mexico who put headlights and then wheels on the new Beetle in Mexico and he was quite happy and felt luck to have such a high paying job. So it is all relative.

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