Borderlands: California leads the U.S. in meth border seizures; Kenworth announces promotions in Mexico

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: California leads the U.S. in meth border seizures by CBP; Albuquerque trucking company acquired by Texas transport firm; Kenworth announces organizational changes at its Mexican subsidiary; and Mesilla Valley Transportation chooses Velociti to provide technology deployment.

California leads the country in meth seizures at U.S.-Mexico border

More than 63% of methamphetamine seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) across the country came through the U.S.-Mexico border in California, according to new data.

During the 2019 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, CBP agents working at border ports of entry in California seized 80,548 pounds of methamphetamine, a 66% increase from the previous year.

U.S.-Mexico ports of entry in California include Otay Mesa, Tecate, Calexico and Andrade. The CBP’s California field office is based in San Diego.

“Some of the numbers are staggering,” Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego said in a release. “Ten years ago, we seized less than 4,000 pounds of methamphetamine – now we are seizing more than 80,000 pounds in a year. Fentanyl, as a category of narcotics, didn’t even exist a decade ago.”

California’s border ports also accounted for 39% of the marijuana, 13% of the cocaine and 47% of the heroin seized at ports of entry nationwide.

CBP agents also seized 1,472 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal year 2019, a 32% increase from the previous year.

While methamphetamine and fentanyl seizures are increasing along the U.S.-Mexico border in California, marijuana continues to be the single largest amount of drug seized, data shows.

In fiscal year 2019, marijuana seizures increased 6% to 112,419 pounds. Cocaine seizures increased 16% to 12,034 pounds; while heroin seizures decreased 10% to 2,560 pounds.

Some of the more recent meth and fentanyl busts at the border have involved the use of tractor-trailer trucks.

In August, the driver of a Freightliner truck was arrested near the Calexico port of entry for attempting to smuggle 392 pounds of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of $1 million. The driver was also carrying 47 pounds of heroin valued at $1.5 million.

In July, CBP seized more than $2 million of methamphetamine and fentanyl in Otay Mesa from a tractor-trailer entering the port of entry from Mexico.

Officers searched the tractor and discovered four duffel bags and six boxes with 374 cellophane-wrapped packages of drugs, CBP said. The driver was arrested and turned over to the Department of Homeland Security.

While fentanyl smuggling is on the rise in California, a record-breaking fentanyl seizure took place in February in Arizona.

CBP agents seized $3.5 million of fentanyl from a produce truck carrying cucumbers attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico at Arizona’s Port of Nogales. Agents also seized $1.1 million of methamphetamine during the same bust.

In June, CBP also seized $14 million of methamphetamine from a tractor-trailer carrying strawberries at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in Texas.

Albuquerque trucking company acquired by Texas transport firm

Refined Fuels Transport was recently acquired by Texas-based Flying Star Transport, according to the news outlet Albuquerque Business First.

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Refined Fuels Transport is a petroleum freight business specializing in tank-truck petroleum fuel transportation in the New Mexico, Arizona and west Texas markets.

The price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

The company will now operate under the Flying Star brand. With the purchase, Flying Star now has 55 trucks and operates terminals in Albuquerque; and in the Texas cities of Amarillo, El Paso, Lubbock, Odessa and San Antonio, according to a news release.

Amarillo, Texas-based Flying Star Transport is a 20-year-old firm that is a subsidiary of Davidson Oil Co., which provides gas, diesel and aviation fuel in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

Texas-based Flying Star Transport recently acquired Refined Fuels Transport of New Mexico. Image: Flying Star Transport

“Refined Fuels boasts a solid operational structure and an outstanding group of safe and reliable transport drivers that will complement our current operations,” Flying Star CEO and Co-founder Chan Davidson said in a release. “This acquisition will further enhance our presence in the Albuquerque and El Paso markets and enable us to expand our offering of efficient and timely services.”

Refined Fuel Transports had 17 full-time employees and a fleet of 24 vehicles prior to its acquisition. The firm also has operations in Arizona. 

Kenworth announces organizational changes at its Mexican subsidiary 

Kenworth Mexicana recently announced the appointment of Carlos Ayala as the new deputy general manager of commercial at Paccar Mexico.

The company also announced that Alejandro Novoa will assume the role of plant director at Paccar Mexico.

Kenworth Mexicana, a subsidiary of the Kenworth Truck Co., is a truck manufacturer that belongs to Paccar Inc.

Paccar manufactures light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Peterbilt Motors and Kenworth Truck Co. brands in North America and DAF trucks in Europe. It also designs and manufactures advanced diesel engines, provides financial services and information technology, and distributes truck parts.

The changes are geared to increase the development of the brand in Mexico, as well as to take advantage of the experience of its executives in the new positions, the company said in a release.

Ayala previously served as president of Paccar Trucks Brazil. Prior to his position in Brazil, Ayala was commercial director at Paccar Mexico, and held positions in engineering and operations. Ayala joined Paccar in 1985.

Previously, Novoa was deputy commercial general director at Paccar Mexico, holding positions in the comptroller’s office of Paccar Mexico. Novoa joined Paccar in 2003.

“Both, with their extensive knowledge of the industry and experience will contribute to the objectives set by the organization, with the certainty that their appointments will be an extremely significant contribution to the growth of Kenworth Mexicana,” Renato Villalpando, general manager at Paccar Mexico said in a release.

Kenworth Mexicana is headquartered in Mexicali, a city in northern Mexico located on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Mesilla Valley Transportation chooses Velociti to provide deployment and support services 

Velociti Inc. will provide Mesilla Valley Transportation with proactive technology monitoring and repair support on 5,000 trailers and 1,500 trucks under a new agreement, according to a release.

Mesilla Valley Transportation will be using Velociti’s VeloCare, a proactive technology monitoring and repair service. VeloCare will support Mesilla’s trucks and trailers with GPS tracking and automatic tire inflation systems, as well as in-cab video, electronic logging devices and tablets.

“With VeloCare they will be monitoring a number of systems and technologies on our tractors and trailers and will quickly send someone to repair them if needed anywhere in the country,” Royal Jones, president and CEO of Mesilla Valley Transportation, said in a release.

“Leading fleets understand the sooner you get your new technology purchases deployed the sooner you start to realize your ROI,” Deryk Powell, president of Velociti said in a statement.

Mesilla Valley Transportation, based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is a dry freight carrier specializing in time-sensitive service between manufacturing centers in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 

Velociti is based in Riverside, Missouri, and is a provider of technology deployment services, specializing in the installation and service of a range of transportation and networking technology products.