Fifteen brand new Ford Fusions arrived via rail on February 5 at the Dayton’s Bluff holding lot in St. Paul. The shiny rides were built at the Ford assembly plant in Hermosillo, a city located in Mexico's northwestern state of Sonora.
Transport trucks picked up 13 of the cars over the next two days. On February 10, another transport arrived to claim the final two. According to a St. Paul Police Department report, when the driver was conducting his pre-shipment inspection, he discovered Saran wrapped blocks of suspected drugs inside the trunks' spare tire compartments.
Police were summoned. They would find a total of four-20-pound blocks of marijuana.
Investigators soon tracked down the other 13 Fusions. Three had made it to the Enterprise Rental Car airport facility. Some were recovered in Dakota County, Rochester, and Annandale. Police would uncover a total of 1,100 pounds of pot stashed in the vehicles' spare wheel compartments.
The following month, authorities at the Dilworth Police Department in northwestern Minnesota made their own bust. On March 10, officers discovered seven Fusions at an auto yard with bags of marijuana in the spare tire wells. The department noted that bundles totaled "about 217 lbs.… of the devil's lettuce."
Investigations remain ongoing, yet police have a theory about the marijuana's importer. The Sinaloa cartel, formerly run by kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, still controls the drug trade in that portion of Mexico. "El Chapo" was extradited to the U.S. in January 2017, but Minnesota cops suspect the drugs were part of a botched import.
According to St. Paul Police, the scheme was supposed to work like this:
Someone in Mexico was charged with stashing the drugs in the new cars. Once across the border, the train stopped for inspections. During one of these stops, police suspect, a co-conspirator stateside was responsible for breaking into the autos and retrieving the valuable contraband.
"It is believed that someone forgot or missed the opportunity to retrieve their narcotics on the U.S. side of the border," the St. Paul Police report notes.
Though weed isn't technically a narcotic, you get the picture.
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