A Mexican man is suing Ford Motor Company for negligence, alleging that the car maker gave out key codes allowing criminals to use his Ford Focus as a drug mule.
Ricardo Magallanes spent six months in federal prison in El Paso, Texas, after customs officers discovered 50.8kg of marijuana in the boot of his Focus while attempting to cross the Stanton Street Bridge from Mexico to attend class at the University of Texas.
The charges were subsequently dropped and Magallanes was released when investigators found evidence that two men had been planting marijuana in cars commuting between Juarez and El Paso.
Authorities learned the smugglers used the cars’ vehicle identification numbers to gain access to the key codes, allowing them to make keys to unlock cars and hide drugs inside them.
Magallanes alleges Ford gave his key code information to a dealership without his consent, with an FBI document confirming an unnamed dealer in Dallas released more than 5300 codes over 18 months.
Magallanes’ lawyer Louis Lopez claims Ford’s distribution of key code information is negligent.
“Ford is giving out these codes willy-nilly; they don’t verify, they don’t check,” Lopez told MSN.
“So if a guy wants to put a dead body or a kilo of cocaine in your car, he can do it easily.”
Ford says it is not to blame, and has instead pointed the finger at the Dallas dealership and the El Paso locksmith who made the keys.