UP: Rail Cars at Border Crossings Are in Government Control

OMAHA, Neb. — The federal government, not a private railroad, is responsible for rail cars entering the country from Mexico, Union Pacific said in response to a lawsuit the federal government filed.

“As Union Pacific explained in its lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in July 2008, it is Customs and Border Protection (CBP), not Union Pacific that takes initial control over rail cars entering the U.S. from Mexico,” the railroad said in a statement. “Union Pacific believes DHS is punishing Union Pacific for drug smuggling when it has no control over what occurs in Mexico. Union Pacific believes that it has exceeded its legal obligations and will defend these duplicative lawsuits.”

The government has filed two lawsuits against the Union Pacific Railroad Co. for allegedly failing to prevent the use of its rail cars to smuggle large quantities of narcotics into the United States. The complaints, filed in San Diego and Houston, seek more than $37 million in monetary penalties. The government alleges the rail cars were brought across the border at the ports of entry at Calexico, Calif., and Brownsville, Texas.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is imposing fines on Union Pacific and seizing rail equipment when it finds drugs hidden in rail cars entering the United States from Mexico, the railroad said.

Union Pacific initiated a lawsuit in July 2008 because the company believes CBP has unlawfully applied the Tariff Act of 1930 in connection with the smuggling of these illegal narcotics.

“Union Pacific is and has been a strong supporter of CBP in its efforts to protect the U.S. border by preventing the smuggling of illegal drugs into the country,” the company said in an official release outlining the situation surrounding the lawsuit. “Union Pacific has provided millions of dollars in annual financial support, built buildings for CBP, trained its border officers, and deployed its own private police and K-9 squads.”

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