Thursday, August 11, 2011

Smuggling Drugs in Unwitting People's Car Trunks

Woh, down in Mexico, I never really been so I don't really know.
And oh, Mexico, I guess I'll have to go.
-James Taylor, lyrics from Mexico

Schneier on Security has this is clever but scary story:
A few miles away across the Rio Grande, the FBI determined that Chavez and Gomez were using lookouts to monitor the SENTRI Express Lane at the border. The lookouts identified "targets" -- people with regular commutes who primarily drove Ford vehicles. According to the FBI affidavit, the smugglers would follow their targets and get the vehicle identification number off the car's dashboard. Then a corrupt locksmith with access to Ford's vehicle database would make a duplicate key. Keys in hand, the gang would put drugs in a car at night in Mexico and then pick up their shipment from the parked vehicle the next morning in Texas, authorities say.
A reader made an interesting comment at Schneier's site; with the duplicate key the smugglers could have easily stolen the cars. Apparently there is more money to be made in drug shipments than in selling a stolen car.

Bottom Line

People who smuggle goods are called mules and not every mule is aware that they are smuggling. Hence the questions at airports - did you pack your own bag? Did anyone give you something to carry on board? Etc.

Never leave your bags out of sight when traveling. A clever crook could slip something into your bag. They won't get caught when the illegal item is found on you. And if you do manage to get through the boarder, the crook or his/her accomplice will steal your bag on the other side.

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