Some Ford Fusion (Mondeo) customers might find quite the surprise in the boot of their new car
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 Superior, Wisconsin, Apple Valley, Annandale, Shakopee and Minnetonka and Dilworth, Minnesota.
Three more drug-packed ended up at a car rental outlet at St Paul Airport, Minneapolis, and there could be many more, still undiscovered, elsewhere in the country.
Each car had about 20kg of marijuana in their spare 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 from inside its Mexico plant and that 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 4per cent of commercial shipments were actually inspected, leaving a huge opportunity for drugs, weapons, and people smuggling into the US.
Ford’s Hermosillo plant is in an area controlled by the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel and is also active along most of the US West Coast.
A Homeland Security study found $19-29 billion (AUD$24-36billion) travels annually from the US to Mexico from illicit drug trade alone.