Congress eyes TWIC/hazmat changes | Traffickers hauling millions' worth in meth caught at border

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, March 18, 2024:

Senate intros bill to cut down on TWIC/hazmat screening red tape

A bill making its way through the Senate with bipartisan support would eliminate redundant fees and background checks for transportation workers.

The Transportation Security Screening Modernization Act, introduced by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Jon Tester (D-Montana), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), and Angus King (I-Maine), was previously introduced in the House by Representatives

The Transportation Security Screening Modernization Act allows workers to apply existing valid background checks to multiple TSA-managed credentialing programs, such as the Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) program and the Hazardous Materials Endorsement. Harmonizing these programs and eliminating duplicative screenings, the bill would codify formal recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office dating back to 2007. Those recommendations have since been reaffirmed in a comprehensive security assessment conducted in 2020 by the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center.

The American Trucking Associations last year led a coalition of more than 150 organizations representing trucking, rail, energy, organized labor, agriculture, third-party logistics providers, and other key supply chain stakeholders in support of the bill.

"Subjecting essential supply chain workers to the same exact background check multiple times in order to receive different credentials from the same agency does nothing to enhance security,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. "This system only serves to pad government coffers by forcing truckers and other transportation workers to pay duplicative fees for a background check they’ve already cleared." 

Spear noted that "this long-overdue reform" would reduce costs and hassles for truck and pipeline operators, longshoremen, and warehouse managers, among many others who must obtain these credentials as a condition of employment. The bill does not make any modifications to the backend security assessment conducted on individual applicants, ensuring that they undergo the same level of review as they do under current law. 

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Two truck-involved border drug smuggling attempts busted

CBP meth bust LaredoPackages containing 923 pounds of methamphetamine seized by CBP officers at World Trade Bridge.CBPU.S. Customs and Border Protection last week announced two drug busts at the border involving tractor-trailers.

One bust in Laredo, Texas, at the World Trade Bridge resulted in a seizure of methamphetamine that totaled over $8,400,000 in street value. The agency said on March 12, a CBP officer referred a 2021 Volvo tractor and trailer manifesting a commercial shipment of celery, broccoli and cauliflower for secondary inspection. Following a canine and non-intrusive inspection system examination, CBP officers discovered a total of 923 pounds of alleged methamphetamine within the commodity. 

In a separate March 12 incident at the Otay Mesa, California, cargo facility officers found millions of dollars’ worth of meth hidden in a shipment.

CBP meth bust Otay MesaCBP officers more thoroughly examined the entire shipment and extracted 3,671.58 pounds of highly addictive methamphetamine.CBPCBP officers reportedly encountered a 27-year-old male, a valid border crossing card-holder, driving a tractor-trailer with a shipment manifested for peppers and tomatillos. The driver was referred for further examination by CBP officers along with the tractor-trailer and shipment.

In the secondary inspection area, a CBP K-9 unit screened the shipment and alerted officers to examine the trailer more closely. Upon further examination, a CBP agriculture specialist discovered a box within the shipment containing a crystal-like substance. CBP officers were radioed for further assistance and extracted a total of 3,594 packages from the shipment of peppers and tomatillos. The contents of the packages were tested and identified as methamphetamine with a weight of 3,671.58 pounds.

CBP officers seized the narcotics and commercial tractor-trailer while the driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

[Related: Busted: Yet another truck-involved drug-smuggling operation]

Navistar recalling International LT trucks for turn signal issue

Navistar is recalling approximately 38 model year 2025 International LT trucks in which two wires in the taillight jumper harness may be reversed, causing the turn signal to activate in the opposite direction of what the driver intended. 

As a result, the trucks don’t comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment."

Dealers will replace the taillight jumper harness, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 6. Owners can contact Navistar customer service at 800-448-7825 with recall number 24506. NHTSA’s recall number is 24V-180.

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