Big meth, cocaine busts at California-Mexico border

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 30, 2024:

Latest border busts find concealed cocaine, meth

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Otay Mesa Commercial Facility in California discovered large amounts of illicit drugs attempting to be smuggled across the border in tractor-trailers.

On Friday, May 17, officers discovered over 400 pounds of cocaine concealed within non-factory compartments in a truck’s fuel tanks.

cocaine in fuel tankCBP officers found 160 packages of cocaine weighing 412.26 pounds in the compartments.U.S. Customs and Border Protection

At approximately 9 p.m. that night, CBP officers encountered a 35-year-old man driving a tractor with an empty trailer applying for entry from Mexico at the facility. The driver, a valid border crossing card holder, was referred for further examination by CBP officers along with the equipment.

In the secondary inspection area, a CBP canine unit screened the tractor-trailer and alerted officers to examine the fuel tanks.

After an intensive examination, CBP officers discovered packages hidden in a compartment inside both of the tractor's fuel tanks. The contents of the packages were tested and identified as cocaine, with a total of 160 packages extracted weighing more than 400 pounds all told. CBP officers seized the narcotics and tractor-trailer while the driver was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

meth packages in squash shipmentMore than $18 million worth of meth was uncovered amongst the zucchini.U.S. Customs and Border ProtectionThen on Monday, May 20, officers found $18 million worth of methamphetamine hidden within a load of squash. At approximately 6:47 a.m. that day, CBP officers encountered a 44-year-old male driving a tractor-trailer manifested for squash. The driver, also a valid border crossing card holder, was referred for further examination by CBP officers along with the tractor-trailer and shipment.  

Secondary, non-intrusive scanning technology was utilized to conduct a full scan of the tractor-trailer, and, after examination, irregularities were observed. CBP officers requested a CBP human and narcotics detection canine. The canine team responded and alerted officers to the presence of narcotics. 

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CBP officers discovered and extracted a total of 1,419 packages concealed within the load. The narcotics were tested and identified as methamphetamine with a total weight of 11,469 pounds with an estimated street value of $18,350,400.

CBP officers seized the narcotics and the truck and trailer, while the driver was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) for further investigation.

[Related: 'Trusted trader' truck driver busted with cocaine at border]

Three new TA Express locations open

TravelCenters of America announced this week the opening of two new TA Express locations in Louisiana and one in Arkansas.

The Arkansas location, in Jonesboro off I-555, offers 90 truck parking spaces, a KFC restaurant, six diesel lanes, seven showers and more. The physical address for the location is 3021 Dr. MLK Jr. Drive, Jonesboro, AR 72401.

The company also opened a new TA Express in St. Rose, Louisiana, near I-310 west of New Orleans. It offers 60 truck parking spaces, five diesel lanes and three showers. A KFC is planned to open in September.

Finally, in Grambling, Louisiana, off of I-20, a new TA Express offers 31 truck parking spaces with more coming, six diesel lanes, two showers, a Jimmy John’s opening in September and more.

[Related: California truck stop inks biodiesel deal]

Port of Oakland eyes federal grant for zero-emission transition

The Port of Oakland and a coalition of 20 partners have applied for a federal grant in hopes to fast-track the Oakland Seaport’s conversion to 100% zero-emission cargo handling operations.

The Port and its clean energy partners are seeking a $417 million grant through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Ports Program: Zero-Emission Technology Deployment Competition.

The Port’s proposal is called “Community Led, Business Supported, Proven and Ready to Go! Transforming the Port of Oakland to Zero Emissions.” The project would significantly advance industry and community goals to transition to zero-emissions operations and strengthen longstanding relationships to meet shared goals, the Port said.

The Port is working closely with 20 community-based organizations, workforce development organizations, marine terminals, Port users, and industry leaders on the proposal. It will support emissions reductions and climate adaptation initiatives that could benefit the region’s industry-impacted communities in East and West Oakland, while advancing a community-verified and air district-supported air-monitoring system to measure project effectiveness and outcomes.

The Port proposes a project cost up to $586 million, to include the replacement of approximately 760 pieces of equipment with zero-emissions equipment (battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell) including:

  • 482 drayage trucks
  • 179 yard tractors
  • 59 forklifts
  • 33 front end loaders
  • Five reach stackers
  • One rail car mover

Another major component of the proposal will be partnering with three local workforce development organizations to support green skills and train drivers on how to operate and maintain the newest zero-emissions equipment and vehicles and supporting infrastructure. In addition, the project includes a Truck Loaner Program, which will provide zero-emissions trucks to independent owner-operators and fleets operating in disadvantaged communities -- at no cost to the trucker.