Texas resumes random commercial truck inspections along Mexico border

Texas again is conducting enhanced inspections of commercial trucks arriving from Mexico at random international ports of entry along the southern border.

The random inspections are directed at deterring drug and human smuggling, according to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw.

“Cartels do not care about the condition of the vehicles they send into Texas any more than they do about the human lives they cram into tractor-trailers or those lost to a fentanyl overdose,” McCraw said in a news release. “For security reasons the department does not discuss operational specifics, but we hope that frequent enhanced commercial vehicle safety inspections will help deter cartel smuggling activity along our southern border while increasing the safety of our roadways.”

The DPS inspections that began Tuesday are at least the third time over the last year that Texas has implemented state-run commercial checkpoints.

The inspections from DPS are on top of those conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which already inspects commercial and passenger vehicles crossing the border.

CBP officials in Laredo said the DPS inspections are already disrupting commercial operations, causing wait times to increase for trucks arriving from Mexico.

“El Paso’s trade is being affected by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s safety inspection of commercial trucks at Bridge of the Americas (BOTA),” Armando Taboada, assistant director of field operations at CBP’s Laredo Field Office, said in an email to the trade community on Wednesday. “The crossing times have been impacted and shipments are taking a long time to exit CBP’s cargo lot due to the Texas DPS safety inspections that are holding up the exit flow of trucks.”

In recent days, a large number of undocumented migrants have been attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border into West Texas near El Paso, officials told The New York Times

CBP officials said the migrants have not affected commercial traffic in West Texas.

“The recent migrant influx has had no impact on commercial operations in El Paso,” Roger Maier, a CBP spokesman, told FreightWaves. “The Bridge of America’s cargo traffic crossing times have been higher than normal this week, but that is likely a by-product of the Texas Department of Transportation exams occurring at their facility adjacent to the federal inspection area. Cargo traffic appears normal at Ysleta.”

Officials for Mexico’s National Chamber of Cargo Transportation (CANACAR) said wait times for commercial trucks in Juarez waiting to cross into El Paso, which usually take about an hour, have increased up to eight hours since the DPS program began Tuesday.

“Since [Wednesday] the recommendation was given that we try to cross the merchandise through the international ports of San Jeronimo-Santa Teresa [in New Mexico] or the Zaragoza bridge [in El Paso],” Manuel Sotelo, president of the CANACAR chapter in Juarez, Mexico, told Milenio

Juarez lies just across the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso. 

“A similar situation happened a few months ago, the governor of Texas slowed down the crossing of goods — right now it only affects El Paso’s Bridge of the Americas, but at any time they want they can decide to check through Zaragoza. So there could be a million-dollar impact on our economic activity,” Sotelo said. 

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