Ah, the Ford Fusion. With apologies to those who own one, it may be the most boring car ever. Well, maybe not anymore. Ford Fusions are made in Hermosillo Mexico and then shipped to Ohio. Some of those Fusions have been carrying a secret. Turns out that numerous Fusions have been found to be carrying lots of weed—that’s marijuana for you Fusion owners—in the spare wheel well. At one Youngstown, Ohio Ford dealership, DEA agents found marijuana worth a million dollars in the wheel wells of Fusions newly shipped from Mexico. Marijuana has also been found in Fusions in 15 other cars in Ohio, and in Fusions in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Arizona. I guess this is giving new meaning to the term “car dealership.”
Just during the two months of February and March this year, around 1,100 pounds of marijuana were discovered hidden in 22 newly manufactured Fusions coming to the US from the Mexican plant. In February, another fifteen Fusions on a railcar in St. Paul were reported to the police. Thirteen of the cars had already been shipped out to dealerships and three ended up at the Enterprise rental location at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. (Imagine unsuspectingly renting one of those cars and ending up with the police finding it. That’s an immediate arrest despite your protestations that you knew nothing about it.) All 15 cars were recovered by the police with the after-market “extras” still hidden in the spare tire compartments. Each car had between 40 and 60 pounds of marijuana hidden in the spare tire wheel well.
There are many other instances of Fusions “infused” with weed and that’s only the marijuana that has been found. To be sure many more Fusions have entered the US loaded with the “extras” that were intercepted and removed by co-conspirators before the Fusions hit the dealership showrooms.
Authorities suspect this operation is being run by the Sinaloa drug cartel, of “El Chapo” fame. The Hermosillo plant is located in the state of Sonora Mexico, an area controlled by the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is the cartel that supplies most of the illicit drugs to the U.S. from Mexico. The Fusion smuggling is but a drop in the bucket of the estimated $19-29 billion in illegal drug trade proceeds from the U.S. to Mexico, of which the Sinaloa cartel is estimated to control around 80 percent.
A U.S. Customs broker speculated that the Mexican cartels may be paying off poorly-paid factory workers in the Hermosillo plant to stuff the Fusions. Ford is a member of a voluntary program that utilizes pre-importation screening and only the factory workers would know when the random screenings are scheduled thus making these workers the persons most likely to stash the pot in the wheel wells. Furthermore, only 4% of commercial shipments are inspected at the border. But now that the FBI and Customs are aware of the smuggling and conducting what they term an “extensive investigation,” I suspect Ford truck carriers may be having a few more headaches at the border these days.
Orange County criminal defense attorney William Weinberg is available for a free consultation regarding drug crimes or any other crime for which you or a loved one has been accused. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008.