The Mexican cartels, never ones to rest on their ingenuity, are always coming up with new and inventive ways to smuggle large quantities of drugs into the United States. Take the drug cannon, modeled on the T-shirt launching devices used at NBA games, or the brilliant drive-a-Jeep-over-a-border-fence gambit.
Now, Wired reports this morning, the cartels have perfected yet another ingenious method for sneaking narcotics past border agents: covering them with lots of hazardous industrial waste.
The drugs are crossing the border in tanker trucks carrying industrial waste Wired describes as a "toxic stew" of oil and drilling fluids and wastewater that tends to include things like benzene and calcium hydroxide.
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The government has technology in place at the border to scan for concealed drug shipments. What it lacks is the expertise and training to safely decontaminate those shipments for use as evidence. That's why U.S. Customs & Border Patrol began seeking bids last week for a company to provide HAZMAT teams to operate at two border checkpoints in the Rio Grand Valley.
When drug shipments are found in hazardous materials, teams provided by the contractor would be responsible for vacuuming out the tanker, stepping inside to fetch the drugs, then properly disposing of the waste.
Of course, even with the added expertise, untold quantities of narcotics are bound to slip past the border concealed in hazardous waste containers. And while surely the cartels have their customers' best interests at heart, you do wonder whether any contaminated product could make it to market, jeopardizing an otherwise perfectly good bender. Food for thought, you know?