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Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Mexico mulls using the National Guard to combat cargo theft; a Texas oil export port project receives federal approval; a Japanese manufacturer is building a $715 million automotive factory in Mexico; and RoadOne opens a transload facility in Houston. 

Mexico mulls using National Guard to combat cargo theft

With criminals aggressively targeting tractor-trailers even more during the holiday season, trucking industry officials in Mexico have proposed using the National Guard (GN) to patrol the country’s vital freight corridors through the holidays.

Officials for Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transport (CANACAR) made the proposal during a meeting Wednesday with officials from the GN and other federal agencies. The program calls for the GN to patrol high-crime roadways at least until Dec. 31.

“The recommendation is made to highlight the importance of implementing a special operation …. in order to reduce the risk of motor transport theft in both local and federal jurisdictions,” Refugio Munoz said in a news release.

The areas where CANACAR is proposing to deploy more GN personnel and vehicles are on roads and highways in parts of the country with the highest incidences of cargo theft, including Mexico City, as well as the states of Mexico, Puebla, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Tlaxcala. 

Refugio Munoz said the GN operation should also include:

  • More coordination between local, state and federal officials in the security and transportation sectors.
  • Establishing a National Immediate Reaction Center between the GN and corresponding state authorities.
  • Creating a permanent team to meet during the holidays that will follow up and investigate organized cargo theft incidents.

Cruz Isaac Munoz, GN’s general director of highway safety and facilities, attended the meeting but did not commit to any of CANACAR’s proposals. 

There were 1,197 reported cargo theft incidents across Mexico in September, a 7% increase compared to the same month in 2021, according to data from Mexico’s Secretariat of Security and Civilian Protection (SSPC).

From January through September, the SSPC reported 9,644 cargo theft incidents against carriers across Mexico, a 7.5% increase compared to the same period in 2021.

The majority of cargo thefts were reported in the center of the country, with the states of Mexico, Puebla, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan and Queretaro accounting for more than 90% of the total incidents recorded.

The most stolen commodities included food and beverage, industrial machinery, electronics, home appliances and fuel.

Almost 70% of cargo thefts occurred from armed robberies while trucks were in transit during the third quarter of 2022, according to recently published data from supply chain visibility provider Sensitech. Thefts from unsecured parking lots totaled 28% during the quarter.

During the first half of the year, companies such as automaker Ford and drone maker DJI recorded cargo theft incidents in Mexico.

Texas oil export port project receives federal approval

The federal Maritime Administration has approved plans to build the deepwater Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), a facility proposed near Freeport, Texas, according to the Texas Tribune.

The facility’s builder, pipeline giant Enterprise Products Partners, has said the offshore port will be designed to make loading large crude carriers more efficient while decreasing oil transportation costs. SPOT could add up to 2 million barrels per day to the U.S. oil export capacity.

Freeport is located about 60 miles south of Houston, along the Gulf of Mexico. The port would be anchored about 30 miles south of Freeport. A pipeline would move crude from Enterprise’s pipeline network in Houston to the nearby city of Surfside, where it would cut under the beach before heading offshore to SPOT. 

The Maritime Administration’s decision clears the way for the SPOT project to receive its license to build. The Sea Port Oil Terminal could start operations by the end of 2025, its builders said.

Japanese manufacturer building $715M automotive factory in Mexico

Japan-based Nidec Corp. recently announced it will build a new plant in Mexico to make electric car motors, according to Nikkei Asia.

The Kyoto-based automotive manufacturer currently produces e-axles in China and Europe but will start making them in North America ahead of an expected surge in demand, said Nidec Chairman and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori.

“As our basic operation, we produce products in a place and sell them locally,” Nagamori said. 

The Nidec group is expected to start the construction of the e-axle factory next year. The new factory’s site has not been announced. The company already has four factories in Mexico located along the Texas border where Nidec makes conventional gasoline motors and other auto components. Nidec currently employs 5,000 workers across the country.

Nidec Corp. currently has 14 manufacturing plants across Japan, Mexico, China and Europe with a global workforce of 15,000 people.

RoadOne opens branch office, transload facility in Houston 

RoadOne IntermodaLogistics recently announced another expansion to its network, adding a transload facility and a dedicated executive team in Houston.

The 480,000-square-foot transload facility is located on 9 acres near Port Houston’s Bayport Container Terminal. It is equipped with 125 dock doors and 550 parking spots for trailers and containers. 

RoadOne also announced that its new branch in Houston will include Andy Blanchard, senior vice president of operations for the West Coast; Brian McAlexander, vice president of sales for the Southwest division; and Larry Cabrera, terminal manager in Houston.

Massachusetts-based RoadOne is a single-source intermodal, distribution and logistics provider with a national network of more than 2,000 trucks and 75 million square feet of space.

Watch: FreightWaves daily market update for Nov. 23.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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