El Paso -- More trade means more trucks and more opportunities for smugglers to stash drugs or other contraband in trucks headed across the border.
“Basically we’re monitoring 6000 shipments per day that travel throughout North America from Central Mexico as far North as Canada,” said Bob Gray, Chief Technology Officer for Secure Origins.
While many trucking and manufacturing companies have their own security systems, Secure Origins is building a business on offering clients surveillance that goes beyond GPS tracking.
The El Paso based company uses software, technology and tools that examine a range of factors including driver behavior.
“If somebody goes off route and he stops that will raise our level of concern,” said Gray.
Cameras and other electronic devices monitor activities inside the truck’s cab as well as trailer. Sensors show when a trailer door is open and for how long. Another tool detects whether the cargo has been compromised.
“So if somebody cuts a hole in trailer an RFID signal released,” said Gray holding a small black device the size of a cell phone.
All the data is collected in real time and evaluated by staff in the company's "command center."
If Secure Origins detects a possible threat, the information is shared with the shipper, trucking company and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
“By being able to keep track of the shipment from the time it leaves the plant to the destination we’re able to make intelligent decisions about who we’re able to inspect,” said Nelson Ballido, Vice President of Public Affairs for Secure Origins.
Ballido is the former president of the Border Trade Alliance a business organization that advocates for trade including reducing the amount of time trucks wait to cross the border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection set up a trusted trader program several years ago for companies that meet certain security standards to safeguard their cargo and trucks.
Companies enrolled in the Securing the Global Supply Chain Customs-Trade partnership Against Terrorism,, known as C-TPAT get expedited inspections although their trucks and cargo are still subject to random searches.
By sharing of information about shipments and trucks ahead of time, officers can focus more of their attention on unknown cargo that could pose risk.
In 2012 there were about five million commercial truck crossings from Mexico with cargo that ranged from products from manufacturing plants or produce from fields in Mexico,
Booming trade has also led to a spike in smuggling attempts involving trucks.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson in El Paso said the majority of the trucks carrying loads of illegal drugs were not part of the trusted trader program.
Trucks involved in smuggling are often seized and their shipment held up while authorities investigate.
To avoid that risk and costly delays most large companies have internal security and monitoring systems and are also enrolled in the trusted trader program.
Secure Origins is selling another layer of surveillance and charging $50.00 dollars per truck a month.
The company currently expanded from El Paso Juarez to the South Texas border region.
Pointing to a map showing trucks from Mexico headed into the Rio Grande Valley, Gray said, “This is live shipments crossing in the Pharr Reynosa area.,”
"We are doing 24/7 monitoring of the trucks as well as the trailers," said Gray.