Alarming Rise In Drug Cartels Targeting Truckers
“These days, they use cars in front to block the road, and then they pull up on both sides. They don’t even try to damage the semi-truck, they go straight for the driver.” – Daniel Portugal, owner of Diamond Glass
Mexico City, Mexico – A new report by the global news service AFP is shedding light on the dangerous conditions truckers in Mexico are increasingly facing and the lengths trucking companies are going to in order to protect their drivers and their customer’s freight.
The citizens of Mexico have been victimized for decades by deadly violence perpetrated by the country’s vicious drug cartels. Motivated by their own fear and desire to cash in on the lucrative cartel business, corrupt Mexican government officials have aided and abetted the cartels for far too long.
Organized crime bosses have always had cozy relationships with those in power willing to look the other way for a cut of the action. Now truckers and trucking companies are increasingly becoming the victims of the Mexican government’s failure to protect its highways.
According to a startling new report, cartels are increasingly targeting truck drivers in their efforts to steal freight shipments. Their methods, though brutal, are not fancy.
At least three vehicles approach the big rig along the highway or near a stop. One pulls in front and the other in back to box the truck in. Then a third pulls alongside and thugs begin firing at the truck driver with AK-47s.
The robbers then hijack its cargo and off they go. According to the report, highway robberies of this sort have more than doubled since 2015 to more than 30 every day.
Bullet-Proof Semi Business Is Booming
The rise in violence against truck drivers has spawned a new booming business of bullet-proofing tractor-trailers. Armored truck companies are now coating tractor trailers in steel and putting bullet-proof glass in the windows.
It’s a matter of life and death for the truck drivers says Daniel Portugal, owner of Diamond Glass, a company that armors big rigs. “These days, they use cars in front to block the road, and then they pull up on both sides. They don’t even try to damage the semi-truck, they go straight for the driver,” he told AFP.
Trucking company owners like Jorge Coronel say it is not only necessary for the protection of drivers, but insurance companies will no longer insure high value loads without armoring the trucks. Coronel told AFP it costs around 550,000 pesos ($27,000) to equip a semi-truck to withstand AK-47 fire.
Robbers Becoming More Sophisticated And Hacking GPS
Many U.S. truckers are worried about thieves and bad actors hacking into the new technological systems being equipped inside semi-trucks. According to the same AFP report, truckers have good reason to worry.
Thieves in Mexico are becoming more adept at hacking into the truck’s GPS to ensure trucking companies can’t track the truck. Esteban Hernandez, head of the Mexican Association of Armored Automakers, is quoted in the AFP report as saying, “The trucks have GPS devices that send their location in case of an unplanned stop, but the criminals have their own devices to jam the GPS.”
“Their modus operandi is to climb the steps and enter the truck, so we developed a mechanism to retract the steps inside the vehicle when the driver isn’t using them,” Hernandez told AFP.
The best way for truckers to survive an attack is to stay inside the armored truck according to Rigoberto Sierra of Diamond Glass. “The most important thing is not to get out of the vehicle. If you’re inside the truck and it gets hit by a bullet, you might have your doubts. But we need our drivers to hold on tight and say, ‘I’m not budging,'” Sierra said to AFP.