As reported by Fox: $1 million worth of marijuana was recently found stashed inside a batch of Ford Fusions manufactured in Hermosillo, Mexico. The drugs were smuggled into the US in half-moon shaped bundles hidden in the spare tire wheel wells.
Where were the drugs discovered? Not near the border, but in a Ford dealership located in Lordstown, Ohio. Some of said vehicles ended up as far as Pennsylvania.
Once in the US, the vehicles were transported by rail. As of yet, there is no indication that any vehicles had been relieved of their elicit cargo en route, but the DEA agent investigating the case says this was clearly the dealer’s goal: “clearly, something went wrong. Generally speaking, [the cartel] could take it off anywhere else along the way.”
The interesting point here is to note that the rail line these vehicles were transported on is a vast network that stretches from Florida to Canada—theoretically, the could have been unloaded at any point along the way.
Now I’m not blaming the rail company for acting as an unwitting mule, and I’m not blaming Ford.
But this case does raise an important, albeit nuanced, point about offshore outsourcing: we lose oversight, if not control, over our industry when it is located in a foreign country.
Sure, we may have some marginal control over the production and assembly in other countries—there are trade agreements in place, and our government has a good deal of bargaining power. But the fact is that we have far less oversight over American companies operating in foreign countries than we do domestically.
For example, the DEA cannot inspect a factory in Hermosillo the way they could one in Pittsburgh. And the problem becomes even more pronounced for countries that are further afield.
My point is that a porous border let in the good with the bad: we get cars, but we also get drugs. Furthermore, the bad can piggyback on supply networks designed for the good.
This is troubling because America is currently in the middle of an opioid crisis, and the vast majority of the heroin that fuels it comes from Mexico, and South American countries, via our southern border. In fact, 90-94% of all heroin consumed in the US comes from Mexico. Recently drug cartels have began trafficking in fentanyl as well.
Given all this, is it so unreasonable to question whether the benefits from saving a nominal amount on manufacturing Ford Fusions (or any other product) is worth the sacrifice of control and oversight over our industry, and the increased inter-connectivity which facilitates drug trafficking?
Free trade with Mexico offers many benefits, but the costs, particularly the social costs, are almost always ignored.
To what degree has NAFTA played a role in helping Mexico’s drug cartels get their products to market? With increased trade volumes comes both a lack of adequate inspection, and more smuggling opportunities.
These are questions worth asking.