Tue. May 17th, 2022
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s truck inspection policy turned up zero drugs and caused hours-long backlogs at the border
  • Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to stamp out drug smuggling turned up zero drugs or contraband.
  • The Texas Tribune obtained data showing the truck inspection policy found mostly equipment violations.
  • The double-inspection policy also resulted in a backlog of 18-wheelers on both sides of the border.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to ramp up inspections of commercial trucks at the border — an apparent effort to stop illegal drugs and migrants from being smuggled into Texas — turned up zero drugs, weapons, or contraband, according to The Texas Tribune.

The Republican governor announced the policy earlier this month, instructing state troopers to inspect every commercial truck arriving in the US from border states in an attempt to stamp out “cartel-facilitated smuggling.” The effort was implemented despite US Customs and Border Protection already having a policy in place to routinely inspect commercial cargo coming from Mexico. 

Troopers conducted more than 4,100 inspections of trucks over an 8-day period beginning on April 8, according to Department of Public Safety data obtained by The Tribune. While troopers failed to find any contraband, they did take 850 trucks off the road for various equipment violations, including underinflated tires, oil leaks, and faulty turn signals, the outlet reported. 

The double-inspection policy also resulted in a backlog of 18-wheelers on both sides of the border. Truckers reported wait times as long as 30 hours for a process that typically takes only a couple of hours. The delays led to shipping delays and $240 million of spoiled produce. 

One estimate from The Perryman Group, a Texas-based economic analysis firm, said the delays cost the US nearly $9 billion in gross domestic product and cost the state of Texas $4.2 billion in GDP.

The inspections drew harsh criticism from Mexican truck drivers, who blocked traffic at one of the busiest entry points into Texas earlier this month in protest. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also slammed the policy, calling it “unnecessary” and “redundant.”

During a Friday press conference, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw attributed the dearth of recovered contraband to Abbott’s policy, saying drug cartels “don’t like troopers stopping them,” according to The Tribune. But an immigration expert told the outlet that the policy probably played no role in any smuggling decrease, as such contraband would likely have been found by federal immigration officials before the trucks were inspected a second time.  

Abbott on Friday announced that the policy would end after he signed agreements with multiple Mexican governors who said they would ramp up security measures to prevent smuggling. 

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