Here is an excerpt from Christopher Sherman's Associated Press article, published in The Brownsville Herald:
"When rail cars idle on side tracks in Mexico to be loaded with legitimate cargo and shipped to the United States, drug smugglers scan for places to hide their own loot — and if no good place is apparent, they make one. arijuana and cocaine can be concealed above rail car axles or behind false undercarriages made of plywood. Bolder smugglers sometimes weld a false wall into a car or sabotage trains to stop them and quickly stow their contraband on board before the train moves on. Cars are then tagged with graffiti or other markings so the dealer in the U.S. can spot his delivery... Thousands of pounds of drugs arrive in the U.S. by freight train every year. Now the federal government says it's time American rail companies cracked down on their Mexican business partners to keep the drugs from reaching the border... Because American rail companies have an ownership stake in the two largest Mexican railroads, U.S. law enforcement is pressuring rail companies to crack down on smuggling." Link to Full Article
Analysis: Those of you who have been following this blog for a while may remember I commented on this issue back in late March. It appears that not much has changed. Union Pacific still refuses to pay fines for drug found in its railcars, and the US government still thinks it should take full responsibility for the security of those railcars on both sides of the border. I can't say that my stance on the issue has changed much either.
To reiterate, I can understand both sides of the argument. Other transportation companies, like container ship owners and commercial airlines, have to pay fines if drugs are found on their ships or planes; rail companies and their trains should be held to the same standard, right? If only it were that easy. Inspecting planes and ships at their point of departure, and once again at the point of arrival in the US, is easier in many ways than inspecting a train. Once a ship or a plane leaves, it's either at sea or in the air without any stops before it reaches the US. Due to current agreements between the US and Mexico, trains do not stop at the border for inspection before reaching their US destination, but they do slow down and can stop in any of a number of places enroute to the US. Drug smugglers are usually very good at what they do, and can place a load in a railcar at the train's origin or somewhere along the route after the cars have been inspected. By then, it's too late for Ferromex or Union Pacific to do anything about it.
Experts say that part of the problem is corruption and negligence or fear among rail employees. This comes as no surprise, and it's an endemic problem that can't be solved overnight, either by Ferromex or Union Pacific. No matter how many security measures are enacted by Mexican authorities or how much pressure is placed on them by Union Pacific, there's no good way to get around an inside job.