For the second time in two weeks, federal agents recovered almost 300 pounds of marijuana from a rail car full of brand-new Ford and Lincoln vehicles that had just been shipped up from Mexico, the Detroit Free Press reports.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told reporters on Thursday that Ford employees discovered several bundles of what appeared to be marijuana in the rail car itself when they began unloading its contents at the automaker's Rail Distribution Facility in Woodhaven, Michigan. ICE agents responded and searched the rail car and 200 vehicles, eventually turning up around 277 pounds of pot.
Though ICE officials wouldn't confirm which models had been turned into unwitting drug mules, previous cases have involved Ford Fusions and Lincoln MKZs made at the company's Hermosillo Stamping & Assembly plant in Sonora, Mexico. Ford only has one other assembly plant in Mexico—Cuautitlán, where workers are making U.S. market Fiestas while they still can—and considering the shipment reportedly involved both Fords and Lincolns, it seems likely this most recent case is somehow connected to the same long-running smuggling effort.
There is one difference, though. Unlike the last two cases, whoever masterminded this shipment was apparently wary of the publicity and opted against the "marijuana spare tire" trick, though it clearly didn't prevent discovery. Also, this special delivery was intercepted before the cars reached dealerships, so it would appear Ford is keeping a closer eye on its shipments.
"We are taking this very seriously. We are working closely with a number of law enforcement agencies on this investigation, including the FBI, Customs, Department of Homeland Security and local police," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in a statement, according to the Detroit Free Press. "We cannot comment further as this is an active investigation."