Borderlands: Toyota begins production at new Tacoma plant; fatal shooting at family-owned trucking company

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Toyota begins production at its new Tacoma plant in Mexico; fatal shooting reported at family-owned trucking company in San Antonio; new superintendent appointed for international commercial bridges; and CBP seizes $1.5 million in cocaine inside shipment of fruit.

Toyota begins rolling out Tacomas at $700 million plant in Mexico 

Toyota Motor Corp. officials said production is underway at its new manufacturing plant in Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato, for its flagship pickup truck, the Tacoma.

Toyota officials said they plan to employ 1,000 workers and manufacture 100,000 Tacoma pickups annually at the plant in central Mexico.

Most of the vehicles will be exported to the United States and Canada, Toyota Motor Sales Mexico President Tom Sullivan told reporters during a press conference in December.

Toyota broke ground on the plant in Guanajuato in 2016, originally planning to invest $1 billion and produce Corollas at the site.

The Apaseo el Grande plant is Toyota’s 15th in North America and its latest investment in Mexico. Toyota also operates a factory in Baja, Mexico, where it currently produces about 170,000 Tacomas, of which it exports approximately 90% to the United States.

On Friday, Toyota also announced it would stop producing Tacoma pickups at its plant in San Antonio, Texas, in late 2021.

Toyota officials announced they would move production of the Sequoia SUV from Princeton, Indiana, to San Antonio, and begin manufacturing in 2022.

The Japanese automaker doesn’t expect to create new jobs — or cut jobs — as a result of the switch.

“Since 2016, the San Antonio plant has been operating at maximum capacity,” Toyota officials said in a statement. “The shift will make room for market growth and achieve long-term sustainability of future production in San Antonio.”

Fatal shooting at family-owned trucking company in San Antonio

A 56-year-old man allegedly shot and killed his 47-year-old brother at a family-owned trucking company in San Antonio before turning the gun on himself, according to police.

Jaime T. Martinez was allegedly fatally shot by Baldemar M. Tamez on Tuesday, according to the San Antonio Police Department.

A family member later confirmed the two were brothers, according to several media outlets.

Jennifer Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the San Antonio Police Department, said police responded to reports of a shooting at 11:10 a.m. Tuesday at JTM Transportation Inc. on San Antonio’s far east side.

Officers arrived to find Martinez with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to a local hospital, where he later died. He was allegedly shot by Tamez.

The JTM Transportation website lists Martinez as president of the company.

After the shooting, police said Tamez drove away from the scene to the parking lot of a store several miles away. Police said they found Tamez inside the vehicle with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

New superintendent named for international bridges along US-Mexico border

Juan Olaguibel was named interim bridge superintendent of McAllen, Texas, on Monday.

In his new position, Olaguibel will oversee the Anzalduas and Hidalgo international bridges along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Olaguibel had been the deputy bridge director in McAllen for 10 years. Former bridge superintendent Rigoberto Villarreal resigned Jan. 6.

The board of directors that oversees the Anzalduas International Bridge and the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge voted unanimously to appoint Olaguibel at its regular monthly meeting Monday.

The Anzalduas commercial international bridge opened in 2009 for pedestrian traffic. In 2016, the bridge began allowing commercial truck crossings.

The empty commercial truck traffic heading south into Mexico across the Anzalduas bridge was down every month in 2019, from January to November, compared to those same months the year before, according to data from the city of McAllen.

There were 1,590 empty trucks that crossed south in November compared to 2,033 in November 2018, a 22% decline. Commercial trucks generated $20,268 in toll fees for McAllen in November.

In October, 2,048 trucks crossed southbound compared to 2,937 in November 2018, 30% less. Commercial traffic tolls generated $26,452 in October.

Cocaine valued at $1.5 million seized in shipment of malanga 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility in Texas intercepted $1.53 million worth of cocaine hidden inside a tractor-trailer hauling a commercial shipment of fresh malanga (taro).

CBP officers assigned to the cargo facility at the Pharr International Bridge along the U.S.-Mexico Border stopped a tractor-trailer hauling the malanga for further inspection on Jan. 12.

Utilizing available tools and resources, including nonintrusive imaging technology, CBP officers allegedly discovered 80 packages with almost 200 pounds of cocaine hidden inside the trailer.

CBP officers seized the cocaine along with the tractor-trailer. The case remains under investigation by Homeland Security.

US Customs and Border Protection seized 80 packages of cocaine hidden inside a tractor-trailer at the Pharr International Bridge on Jan. 12. Image: US Customs and Border Protection

“Great teamwork and resiliency is what allows our frontline officers to make interceptions like this one this weekend at the cargo facility,” Port Director Carlos Rodriguez of the Port of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas said in a release.