Society

Ricardo Magallanes Suing Ford For Unknowingly Becoming A Drug Mule

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A student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is suing Ford Motor Company because he alleges that the manufacturer handled keys and key codes so negligently that drug smugglers were able to break into his car and plant 112 pounds of marijuana.

Ricardo Magallanes was stopped in 2010 by border patrol officer Alfredo Castaneda because he seemed suspicious and did not make eye contact. Castaneda found a couple of tightly packed duffel bags containing marijuana in Magallanes’ trunk.

Apparently a Dallas auto dealer gave out thousands of codes for cars and trucks all over the United States during an 18-month period, therefore putting innocents' car keys into the hands of drug smugglers.

"Per Ford Motor Co., user-account A has pulled/accessed 5,321 vehicle key codes in the last 18 months, approximately 10 key codes per day," reads a 2011 FBI affidavit, signed by Special Agent J. Daniel Clark. "Also, based on my review of this information, user-account A has pulled vehicle key codes for Ford vehicles which are registered all over the United States, not just in Dallas, Texas. Based on the high volume of key codes pulled, as well as the geographic dispersion of the registered locations of the associated vehicles, I believe that user-account A is being utilized to provide key codes to one or more 'key code source' companies" such as the one that provided Magallanes' code to the El Paso locksmith.”

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There are four other cases from the area that are similar to what happened with Magallanes. They all involved unwitting victims who lived in Juárez and worked in El Paso, The Daily Caller reported.

Louis Lopez defended Magallanes in criminal court and is co-counsel in the civil suit. He said the key codes were vitally important to the scheme. “But for that, this couldn’t have worked,” he said. “It’s a quagmire for the government because every bridge case could be an innocent person,” he added. (Magallanes was crossing a bridge when he was arrested.)

Sources: The Daily Caller, El Paso Times