Drugs Smuggled to US in Toxic Waste

By McCarton Ackerman 03/21/13

US border patrol is seeking hazmat teams to tackle a nasty new form of drug trafficking.

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If you were searching for a reason not to do drugs, you may have found it: The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reporting that Mexico's drug cartels are now transporting their goods in tanker trucks filled with "various forms of industrial hazard waste." To sneak their goods in to the US, the traffickers stow them in containers filled with a toxic stew of oil, drilling fluids and wastewater in gas and oil wells, among “other substances found in industrial transportation vehicles.” CBP is now looking to hire additional hazmat teams since Border Patrol agents haven't received the training to extract drug packages hidden in toxic liquids. "The contraband has to be extracted and decontaminated on site under the supervision of CBP agents who will take control of all the contraband once the extraction and decontamination process is completed,” reads one recent solicitation. The cartels have reportedly been using tanker trucks, which are scanned by X-ray machines at checkpoints. If a drug shipment is spotted, the contractors deploy vacuum trucks to suck out hazardous chemicals and then teams in full protective suits physically remove the drugs. In order to avoid breaking environmental laws, contractors are required to clean all spills and then “dispose of all waste at a disposal or recycling facility properly permitted to accept the material.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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