According to Canadian Border Control agents, a shipment of 14 Ford Fusions—that were parsed out to nine different Ontario-based Ford dealerships—contained a surprise for the dealership employees, a massive amount of heavily wrapped packages of methamphetamines hidden inside the brand-new cars’ spare tires.
Authorities state that the 400-pound drug shipment, which was brought into Canada via legal U.S. shipping lanes from Mexico, is supposedly worth a total of $4.5 million dollars and ended up in dealership hands after an obvious “error” made by the drug cartels. According to Autonews, Canadian and U.S. authorities believe that the drugs were shipped by the Sinaloa drug cartel, which gained access to the cars after they left the assembly plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.
Dealership employees first found the drugs earlier this year, hidden away inside a number of new Ford Fusion spare tires and trunks. The local and regional authorities were contacted at once and the subsequent investigation led to a total of nine cars filled with methamphetamines, all of which came across the border on the same railcar. Agents then stopped another railcar following further leads and discovered another 12 Fusions containing drugs all hidden in their spare tires.
Autonews reports that the discovery of the illicit contraband was not nearly as exciting as many would assume. According to the report, one Ford Lincoln dealership in Ontario was conducting a fairly routine inspection of a new Fusion that had just been delivered. In the course of the examination, the employee saw that the trunk mat didn’t fit the trunk correctly. When they attempted to readjust it, they discovered that the spare tire was to blame, but that it wasn’t the Ford-spec spare.
When the employee delved further, they discovered the spare tire had been filled with the cache of drugs. The employee told Autonews, “At that point, we were done.” Shortly after, the police and authorities were called in, leading to the fairly large methamphetamine bust.
Both Ford Motor Co. of Canada and Ford Motor Co. in the United States are working with the authorities to find out what occurred, how the cars were accessed, when the drugs were placed into the vehicle, and how to better ensure cargo for future shipment. Ford gave a brief statement, saying the company was “working closely with a number of law enforcement agencies.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, much of the world’s illicit drugs are seized at legal ports of entry as the drugs are smuggled in using tactics like the one illustrated above. In a recent USA Today article, the author spoke to the agency’s former Head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, who stated that such methods are employed as legal ports of entry are often over-crowded and it’s easier to sneak contraband through. During the trial of one of the world’s most notorious drug lords, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman several former cartel associates told a packed courtroom that the drug syndicate “mostly pushed drugs through U.S. ports of entry, stashing bricks of narcotics in cars, trucks, and trains.”
The Canadian bust isn’t the first time authorities have found illicit drugs in tires either. In 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found $1.6 million worth of methamphetamines hidden in the tires of an SUV. According to the report by Newsweek, CBP officials stopped a woman attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border legally when her car was selected for a “secondary exam.” That’s when authorities employed a drug-sniffing canine unit and discovered the large stash in the SUV’s wheels.
As for the Canadian investigation, it is still ongoing with authorities stating a handful of people have been identified as “persons of interest,” but nothing more than that.