A border security program that X-rays every train entering the U.S. has prompted as much as $400 million in fines against railroads, which are held responsible for bales of marijuana, bundles of cocaine, and anything else criminals cram into the boxcars and tankers as they travel through Mexico, the Associated Press reports.
Union Pacific, the largest rail shipper on the U.S.-Mexico border and the largest recipient of fines, refuses to pay more than $388 million in fines. The railroad argues that it’s being punished for something it cannot control: criminals stashing illegal drugs in rail cars in Mexico. “Our actions should be applauded, not punished,” said Union Pacific vice president Bob Grimaila. Mexico’s drug cartels, whose violence has cost 35,000 lives since late 2006, earn an estimated $25 billion a year selling drugs in the U.S. The 8,000 trains that enter and exit the U.S. each year through 8 border crossings offer a fast track to lucrative profits.