Trucker faces life in prison after drug trafficking conviction

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021:

Trucker found guilty of drug trafficking

A 65-year-old CDL driver from New Jersey was found guilty recently of drug trafficking charges in connection with an arrest a year ago for hauling crystal methamphetamine and fentanyl valued at $2.2 million.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on Oct. 29, David Jusino Ramirez, a 65-year-old New Jersey resident, was convicted after a five-day jury trial before United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion.

According to a statement from Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, evidence presented at trial showed Jusino Ramirez worked as a commercial truck driver who, in addition to legitimate cargo, transported illegal drugs from California to Pennsylvania as part of a drug trafficking organization. 

On Oct. 8, 2020, Jusino Ramirez and Julio Romero-Mancebo drove a tractor-trailer that contained more than 120 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and three kilograms of fentanyl from Montebello, California, to a truck stop near Hazelton, Pennsylvania. There they reportedly met with Emmanual Roman-Figueroa and delivered the methamphetamine to him in exchange for $28,000 in cash.  

The three men were arrested by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration along with officers from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Hazelton Police Department.

The jury found Jusino Ramirez guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute. His co-defendants previously pled guilty to felony drug trafficking charges and are awaiting sentencing. 

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Each count also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. 

Navistar opens five new truck parts locations

Navistar announced that its all-makes and -models aftermarket truck and bus parts brand, Fleetrite truck parts, has opened five more retail locations through partnerships with the International and IC Bus dealer network.

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The company says the locations offer an expansive line of products to ensure customer access and improved uptime. With the new stores opening, Fleetrite’s total retail locations throughout the United States and Canada has now reached 16.

The newest Fleetrite retail locations include:

  • Fleetrite Truck Parts by Sun State International in Tampa, Florida 
  • Fleetrite Truck Parts by Peterson Trucks in Portland, Oregon
  • Fleetrite Truck Parts by Peterson Trucks in Eugene, Oregon
  • Fleetrite Truck Parts by Peterson Trucks in San Leandro, California
  • Fleetrite Truck Parts by Winslow-Gerolamy Motors in Peterborough, Ontario

Forward Air acquires intermodal carrier

In a move that strengthens its intermodal capabilities, Forward Air Corporation has acquired BarOle Trucking, Inc. and the trucking-related assets of TKI Intermodal, LLC, the company confirmed Wednesday. 

BarOle Trucking is the largest intermodal carrier in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Minneapolis-based TKI is a shipping company specializing in container drayage transportation and storage.

“The trucking and logistics industry is under unprecedented pressure, especially within the intermodal market, as we have seen higher demand than normal,” said Tom Schmitt, Forward Air chairman and CEO. "The acquisitions are a continuation of our business strategy, empowering us with the additional resources necessary to meet growing customer demand while driving efficiency, market expansion and industry-leading career opportunities.”

These acquisitions continue Forward Air's roll-up strategy in intermodal, which it began in 2014 with the acquisition of Central States Trucking, and in this recent transaction Forward Air also picks up additional storage yards, chassis and more than 82 new employees, including 95 drivers – quadrupling Forward Air's total number of drivers in the Minneapolis Intermodal market. 

The acquisition of BarOle will also provide Forward Air with a larger terminal location, enabling possible future expansion. The company said it is currently evaluating potential opportunity to consolidate its post-closing Minnesota operations into a single location for more efficiency at the terminal.

The BarOle acquisition is expected to close in December. The TKI deal closed in October 2021. 

[Related: Port challenges/opportunities: Is the heyday sun setting on JIT as a freight/inventory model?

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