Southeastern cargo theft ring members get jail time

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, July 11, 2024:

Members of Southeastern cargo theft ring sentenced to prison

Four members of a Southeastern U.S. cargo theft ring were recently sentenced to prison for multiple cargo thefts throughout the Southeast totaling more than $1.7 million.

According to U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan in the Northern District of Georgia, the defendants -- Yunior Hernandez, Roberto Quesada Lopez, Carlos Alberto Valdes, and Yubani Millares Vera -- operated a cargo theft ring throughout 2019 across the Southeast, with the stolen goods taken to Florida and sold.

According to a press release from Buchanan, the defendants stole over:

  • $500,000 worth of computers in Macon, Georgia, on May 18, 2019
  • $640,000 worth of computers meant for the Centers for Disease Control in Emerson, Georgia, on June 11, 2019
  • $110,000 worth of copper in Denmark, Tennessee, on July 21, 2019
  • $110,000 worth of copper in Glade Springs, Virginia, on Sept. 2, 2019
  • $110,000 worth of copper in Fairview, Tennessee, on Oct. 6, 2019
  • $340,000 worth of apparel in Kingsland, Georgia, on Nov. 16, 2019

[Related: Homeland Security appropriations bill would create anti-fraud/cargo theft task force]

Hernandez, 50, of Homestead, Florida, was sentenced to two years, nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $880,857.43 in restitution. Hernandez was convicted of conspiracy on Dec. 20, 2022, after he pleaded guilty.

Valdes, 55, of Hialeah, Florida, was sentenced to three years, 10 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $1,543,890.60 in restitution. Valdes was convicted of conspiracy on Jan. 19, 2023, after he pleaded guilty.

Lopez, 44, of Hialeah, Florida, was sentenced to two years, six months in prison and ordered to pay $1,229,888.32 in restitution. He was convicted of conspiracy on July 18, 2023, after pleading guilty.

Millares Vera, 49, of Hialeah, Florida, was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay at least $1,760,479.12 in restitution. Millares Vera was convicted of conspiracy on March 14, 2024, after he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistance was provided by the Miami-Dade County Police Department, Economic Crime Bureau, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Field Office.

[Related: How carriers can respond to the rash of cargo thefts hitting the industry]

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Werner celebrates 25 years in Mexico

Werner Enterprises (CCJ Top 250, No. 13) is celebrating a significant milestone as it commemorates 25 years of Mexico-based operations.

Since its inception in 1999, Werner has been at the forefront of facilitating seamless trade between Mexico and the United States, the company said.

From beginning with just three associates and one office in Mexico City, Werner has expanded its footprint significantly over the past quarter-century. Today, the company boasts a robust presence with offices in Mexico City, Monterrey, Queretaro and Guadalajara, in addition to strategically located terminals in Laredo and El Paso along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Complementing these facilities are strategic properties in key border locations including Brownsville, Texas; Nogales, Arizona; Calexico, California; and San Diego.

[Related: Cross-border freight on the rise at both borders]

"Our journey in Mexico has been one of growth, innovation and unwavering commitment to our customers," said Lance Dixon, Werner’s Senior Vice President of Mexico/Canada/TCU Divisions. "We take pride in our ability to adapt and evolve with the changing needs of the industry while maintaining the highest standards of safety and service excellence. We deeply appreciate our partner carriers in Mexico who have made this success possible."

Over the years, Werner has diversified its service offerings to meet the evolving demands of cross-border trade. What began as a through-trailer dry van service has expanded to include temperature-controlled, pure brokerage, power-only, intermodal, cross-docking and transloading.

Werner's 25-year venture in Mexico has been marked by significant milestones and accomplishments, such as inaugurating its Laredo Terminal in 2001, purchasing the El Paso terminal in 2006, and opening its refrigerated cross-dock at the Laredo terminal in 2019.

"While we celebrate our accomplishments, we also recognize the challenges inherent in cross-border freight," said Werner’s Chairman and CEO Derek Leathers. "Navigating documentation, requirements, permits, duties and foreign laws can be daunting for businesses, but our 25 years of experience and strong relationships enable us to overcome these obstacles swiftly and efficiently."

Today, Werner's Cross-Border Team comprises of 150 associates across 10 offices in Mexico and the United States.

[Related: Mexico passes China as top U.S. export partner, and that’s good news for freight]

Ryder recognizes Drivers of the Year

Ryder System (CCJ Top 250, No. 12) this week recognized the winners of its Driver of the Year award, recognizing the top professional truck drivers from each of its three business units. Three Ryder professional drivers were inducted into the Ryder Driver Hall of Fame – Darryl Tolle, based out of Georgetown, Kentucky; Anslum Hudlin, based out of Waco, Texas; and Richard Landry, based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Together, they boast a combined experience of 122 years and have collectively driven nearly 11.3 million miles.

The “Driver of the Year” honor is one of Ryder’s oldest and most prestigious awards programs celebrating 52 continuous years of recognition. Winners are chosen through a rigorous review process conducted by a committee of Ryder executives, safety experts, and professional drivers. This year’s three standouts demonstrated exemplary safety, performance, and customer service throughout their careers.

“It’s an honor to have such exceptional individuals like Darryl and Anslum on the Ryder team, as well as Richard on our customer’s team, as some of the best drivers in the industry,” said Robert Sanchez, chairman and CEO of Ryder. “These honorees embody the core values of our company in both their professional and personal lives.”

Tolle received Ryder’s Supply Chain Solutions’ Driver of the Year award. With more than 41 years of experience behind the wheel, he has driven 3.5 million miles, with 2.8 million of those miles during his 35-year tenure with Ryder.

Hudlin won for Ryder’s Dedicated Transportation Solutions, where drivers are responsible for operating specialized equipment, overseeing unique product handling, navigating complex routes, and meeting stringent customer service requirements. With nearly 3.8 million miles on the road, including almost 600,000 miles during his eight years with Ryder, Hudlin has had a remarkable 43-year driving career.

Landry won Ryder’s Fleet Management Solutions Customer Driver of the Year award. With 4 million miles on the road over his impressive 38-year driving career, Landry has demonstrated exceptional dedication and skill, Ryder said. He also has the distinction of being the first ever Canada-based FMS Customer Driver of the Year.