Congress eyes creation of anti-fraud/cargo theft task force

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, June 13, 2024:

Homeland Security appropriations bill includes funding for anti-fraud/cargo theft task force

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that includes funding for a task force that would address supply chain fraud and cargo theft.

A report on the details of the bill notes that the Appropriations Committee “remains concerned with the alarming rise in supply chain fraud and theft through interstate commerce, particularly in the rail, motor carrier, and intermodal systems, including attempted burglary, theft of merchandise, or possession of merchandise stolen from a railcar and/or motor carrier.”

To combat these issues, the bill includes a provision to allocate $2 million to establish a so-called “Supply Chain Fraud and Theft Task Force (SCFTTF)” within DHS.

The committee said that Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI and other major theft task forces would consult with state, local, tribal, territorial and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure that the task force “employs a coordinated, multi-agency, intelligence-based, and prosecutor-led approach to identifying, disrupting, and dismantling organizations primarily responsible for the theft and theft-related violence in the American supply chain.”

The bill passed the Appropriations Committee by a 33-26 vote and will move to the full House for a vote.

[Related: Chicago-area freight thief steals $9.5M in goods: Courts]

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it has “long been concerned about the spike in all types of shipping fraud and the devastating effects on our members.”

Lewie Pugh, OOIDA executive vice president, added that the organization looks forward “to providing relevant and timely input on this initiative from the viewpoint of small-business truckers, [who] make up a majority of trucking and are the safest carriers on the highways. We should be doing all we can to root out bad actors, which not only compromise trucking business but highway safety as well.”

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Pugh also highlighted OOIDA’s support for the Household Goods Shipping Consumer Protection Act, which would require brokers and freight forwarders to provide a valid principal place of business before getting operating authority and allow FMCSA to enforce civil penalties against entities that violate its regulations.

The American Trucking Associations said the provision in the DHS funding bill, championed by Rep. David Valadao (R-California), “will counter the sharp rise in cargo theft and broader supply chain fraud, addressing one of ATA’s strategic priorities.”

ATA commended the California rep for “directing Homeland Security Investigations to leverage its unique cross-border authorities to address this alarming trend,” said Henry Hanscom, ATA’s Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs. “This provision will strengthen the partnership between the government, law enforcement, motor carriers, and our supply chain partners to strike an effective blow against these organized theft groups.”

[Related: High-value cargo increasingly targeted by thieves]

Segments of the trucking industry, along with members of Congress, have called on the federal government for to create a similar task force in recent times.

"There is no effective cop on the block protecting shippers, brokers and carriers against unauthorized operations, frauds, scams, and identity thefts involving the abuses of intermediaries in regulated truck transportation," said transportation attorney Hank Seaton in comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2022. The National Association of Small Trucking Companies was among groups to sign on to Seaton’s commentary.

Seaton also added that DOT and/or the FMCSA "should establish and staff a permanent task force to monitor complaints about fraudulent and intentional breaches of regulations by regulated brokers and carriers and establish a proactive prosecutorial staff to discharge its statutory and regulatory duties to enforce existing rules of commerce including civil and criminal penalties available to the Department of Transportation."

[Related: FMCSA needs a 'cop on the block' fighting brokered-freight fraud]

Deadline approaching for military veteran rookie trucker award nominations

The nomination period for the annual Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award that recognizes the nation’s top military veteran rookie truck driver is nearing its close. The nomination period will end June 20.

As part of the program, Kenworth will provide the grand prize for the ninth consecutive year. This year’s award is a T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the Paccar Powertrain featuring the Paccar MX-13 engine rated at 455 horsepower, Paccar TX-12 automated transmission and Paccar DX-40 tandem rear axles.

[Related: Enter today: Overdrive's 2024 Trucker of the Year competition]

The top driver will be determined by an expert panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must be legal residents of the continental United States and military veterans or current/former members of the National Guard or Reserves; must have graduated from PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training schools. Qualified candidates must also hold a valid CDL and must have been employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet that has pledged to hire veterans and hired as a CDL driver after January 1, 2023.

Award semi-finalists will be announced on Aug. 1. Finalists will be invited to Columbus, Ohio, to tour the National Veterans Memorial and Museum and attend a reception, followed by a tour of the Kenworth Chillicothe manufacturing plant, where the finalists will be announced. Public voting on the finalists will occur from Nov. 1-11. On Dec. 13, finalists will gather at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where the final award announcement will be made. 

The winner will drive home in the Kenworth T680.

Driver honored for helping after witnessing crash

Roy Chandler, a Diamon Transportation System driver out of Rockport, Texas, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for stopping to help a woman who crashed into a tractor-trailer on a rainy highway.

Roy ChandlerRoy ChandlerAround 2:30 p.m. on April 20 in Morris County, Texas, Chandler was traveling on I-30 in heavy rain. He witnessed a young woman pass on the left, but visibility was extremely low. 

She sped past him, then he saw her attempt to merge back into the right lane. Unfortunately, with the rain and spray on the highway, she could not or did not see another truck in the lane she was merging into. She hit the back end of the trailer and flipped multiple times into the median.

“She hit the back tire and the momentum of her tire going forward and his tire just launched her into midair,” Chandler said. “She went up about 20 feet into midair.”

Chandler immediately pulled to the side and ran to help the woman. She was responsive, with only minor injuries, but trapped in the car. He called 911 and stayed with the young woman and consoled the driver of the truck she hit-- he was visibly shaken and complained of dizziness.

Chandler also helped to clear the road, stayed on the scene until a state trooper arrived, and provided his dashcam footage to law enforcement.

A second-generation truck driver who has been driving for 37 years, Chandler has helped at his fair share of wrecks.

“It’s always what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “As a Christian and as a truck driver, I’m supposed to help wherever I can. To me it was just another day at work.”

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