Big meth shipment found in load of veggies | Baltimore emergency declaration extended again

Updated Jul 9, 2024

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, July 8, 2024:

Cucumber, bell pepper load obscured $5.1M in meth: Customs and Border Protection

Meth seized at borderThese 360 packages of alleged meth were found in a shipment of cucumbers and bell peppers at the Pharr International Bridge.U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Pharr International Bridge in Pharr, Texas, recently seized more than $5.1 million in methamphetamine from a truck during an enforcement action.

CBP said the seizure occurred on June 30 when a CBP officer referred a tractor-trailer hauling a shipment of cucumbers and bell peppers for secondary inspection.

CBP officers conducted a secondary examination that included utilization of a non-intrusive inspection system and CBP canines. Upon further physical examination, CBP officers discovered 360 packages containing a total of 577.61 pounds of alleged methamphetamine within the trailer. The narcotics had a street value of $5,163,496.

“Our frontline CBP officers continue to deploy a strategic combination of inspections experience coupled with technology and that effort yielded this significant methamphetamine seizure,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Laredo Port of Entry “These types of seizures illustrate CBP’s efforts to protect our communities from the spread of hard narcotics.” 

CBP seized the narcotics. Homeland Security Investigations special agents initiated a criminal investigation.

[Related: Big meth, cocaine busts with concealment in loads at U.S.-Mexico border]

FMCSA again extends Baltimore emergency declaration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued another short-term extension to the emergency declaration related to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

A state of emergency was declared in the aftermath of the collapse on March 26. A handful of extensions since then have kept the declaration in place. The most recent extension was set to expire on July 6.

The new extension, published July 3, extends the waiver through July 15.

As previously reported, the following motor carriers and drivers are exempt from the maximum driving time regulations in 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 395.3:

  • Those providing direct assistance to the restoration and reopening efforts at the Port of Baltimore transporting equipment and supplies related to immediate repairs to the roadways and navigable waterways adjacent to the port
  • Those providing transportation related to the removal of wreckage and debris from the waterways providing access to the port
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Additionally, carriers and drivers transporting commodities rerouted from the Port of Baltimore to other East Coast ports because of the collapse, including fuel and intermodal freight, such as shipping containers and their contents, automobiles or other equipment transported in roll-on roll-off operations such as heavy duty machinery and farm equipment are granted emergency relief from the maximum 11-hour driving time in 49 CFR Part 395.3(a)(3)(i), up to a maximum of two additional hours.

Carriers and drivers hauling fuel (gasoline, ethanol, propane, natural gas, and heating oil) from Maryland’s Curtis Bay terminal (within the Baltimore Marine Terminal area) for delivery to the following locations within Maryland: Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Frederick County, Harford County, Howard County, Queen Anne’s County, and Washington County are also exempt from the maximum 11-hour driving time, up to a maximum of two additional hours.

Finally, drivers and carriers in the above operations who are not currently required to use an electronic logging device and don’t have an ELD installed, including those currently operating under the short-haul operations exception, are allowed to operate without an ELD for keeping logs. Such carriers and drivers are required to maintain paper logs and supporting documents while operating under the exemption.

FMCSA said it will continue to monitor the status of the emergency and modify the declaration if necessary.

[Related: Channel to Port of Baltimore fully reopened to original dimensions]

I-40/U.S. 93 interchange construction set to begin

The Arizona Department of Transportation is set to begin work Thursday, July 11, on a free-flowing interchange connecting U.S. 93 and I-40 in Kingman.

The $106 million project is planned to eliminate delays that can occur for truck and passenger traffic on the main route between Las Vegas and Arizona. While traffic now must stop at a traffic signal where Beale Street intersects with I-40, a system-to-system interchange will feature ramps that allow traffic to flow freely.

Those new ramps will create one new mile of highway between I-40 and U.S. 93, running northwest of the existing interchange at I-40 and Beale Street. Other project features include:

  • Widening more than one mile of I-40 in both directions between the new interchange and Stockton Hill Road
  • Adding a merge lane on U.S. 93 northbound
  • Widening and/or rehabilitating four bridges on I-40
  • Building sound walls along a portion of I-40 to the west of Stockton Hill Road
  • Constructing drainage features

[Related: Arizona I-40 rougher than a corncob? You bet, particularly between Kingman and Flagstaff]

Border Patrol adds X-ray scanner to I-35 checkpoint

Laredo Sector Border Patrol announced it has deployed a Multi-Energy Portal (MEP), a non-intrusive inspection device for commercial vehicles, at the I-35 Border Patrol Checkpoint.

The MEP incorporates advanced technology to meet the safety of the traveling public while facilitating and expediting trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a press release.

The MEP is an X-ray machine that is used to enhance inspections of commercial vehicles through heavy shielding, thus providing a safe and expedited examination. The system is able to scan more than 150 containers per hour in the typical flow of traffic at the checkpoint.

CBP employs an in-depth, layered enforcement strategy to stop illegal activity, including narcotics smuggling, at U.S. borders, the agency said. CBP continues to utilize all of its available resources, including non-intrusive technology as part of its strategy to stop dangerous drugs from entering American communities.

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