Pointing at one of those truck icons, Mayer Security founder Luis Mayer said, “It’s been parked since 9:18 at this yard. This one parked at 9:23 at this yard.”

Several alerts indicating that a truck had stopped or that its door was opened also popped up.

“That red light, that’s for Mexican customs and then the door was opened at 14:13 and then closed. And then the door was opened at 14:39 by the Mexican military,” Mayer said.

For years, Mexican drug cartels have used commercial trucks moving legal commodities across the border to transport tons of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and other narcotics. Just this year, there have been seven busts of loads worth more than $1 million at the Mariposa Port of Entry alone. One of the principal goals of the seals, Mayer said, is to make it more difficult for organized crime to use trucks for such purposes.

At least one local produce distributor said he also likes the potential for the technology to improve the speed and efficiency of deliveries.

In nearly real-time the Krateus seals, which are manufactured by the Georgia-based company TydenBrooks, send out GPS data, which is then monitored through a computer program designed by Texas-based supply chain tracking company LoJack SCI. The partnership between TydenBrooks and Mayer started this past February and since June, Mayer Security has been leasing the seal units to growers, manufacturers and brokers doing business on both sides of the border.

According to Mayer, his company currently has 135 seals out in the field with about 15 companies, including agribusiness giant Cargill and a number of local brokers whose trucks have done more than 3,000 crossings with the units. TydenBrook is sending another 3,000 soon.

“I don’t have enough GPSs to give out,” Mayer said.

According to TydenBrooks’ website, the Krateus is compliant with both CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program and meets the International Organization of Standardization’s guidelines for high-security seals.

At defined intervals, usually between three and 15 minutes, location data comes in. If a truck has left its preset route, if the seal is removed and its doors are opened, or if it stops for more than a certain amount of time, alerts are sent to Mayer and his employees. As these updates and alerts come in, employees add the data to a cloud spreadsheet that can be viewed by the growers, shippers or brokers that have hired Mayer Security’s services.

“(The trucker) has to stay within the route that we gave him,” Mayer said, adding that if he leaves the route, an alert is sent. “OK, you gotta worry now,” he said. “Why did he leave his exit?”

Many alerts are easily explained by truckers arriving at military and customs checkpoints in Mexico and at the border, but doors being opened at strange places off the predefined route could indicate that drugs and other contraband have been added to the load.

In such an instance, Mayer Security will then contact the relevant Mexican and U.S. authorities to let them know that a truck in need of additional inspection is headed their way.

Luis Manriquez Perez Felix, a Mexican Federal Police Officer who does truck inspections between Santa Ana and Nogales, Sonora, is one of the law enforcement officers that gets those notifications.

“As soon as the lock is broken, Luis gives us a call,” Perez said. “He has contact with U.S. law enforcement as well as with us to let us know when a vehicle leaves its route or the trailer is breached.”

Perez described the devices as “reliable.”

Armando Goncalvez, CBP’s trade program director at the Mariposa Port of Entry, declined to comment on Mayer Security’s service, saying that “CBP as an agency does not endorse anybody. I am not aware of this technology.”

Planning ahead

Beyond detecting when loads may have been compromised, Mayer said there are a number of additional benefits to using the Krateus seal.

For the truckers who take loads from drivers who cannot cross the border themselves, commonly known as “burreros,” the units give them additional security in case illicit commodities are found in the truck. If the GPS and lock data indicate that the load was likely compromised before the burrero took over, there is a better chance they will be released, Mayer said.

Additionally, all the GPS data helps growers and brokers monitor the speed and efficiency of truckers.

“They hurry up, the driver hurries up because now he knows you’re watching him,” Mayer said.

Chris Martin, CEO of Nogales-based distributor Wilson Produce, said his company is considering adopting the technology for a number of reasons, most importantly the impact he thinks it will have on the speed with which his products get across the border.

“It just speeds up the whole process,” Martin said.

According to Martin, having more information on where trucks are and when they will likely arrive “allows you to plan much better on the receiving end.”

“You just have a much clearer picture and peace of mind about what your truck is doing and why it’s doing it,” he said.