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The Cámara Nacional del Autotransporte de Carga (CANACAR), or National Chamber for Cargo Transporters, said last week that by the end of the year it expects the number of highway freight robberies to top 2,400, a 37 percent increase over the figure for 2016. That followed a 60 percent increase, from 986 robberies, in 2015, to 1,590 in 2016, the organization said.
The organization urged legislators to make highway robbery a federal crime, with tough penalties, rather than the present classification of it as a "common” crime, with far weaker punishment.
The comments, made last week in an open letter to President Enrique Pena Nieto and other federal officials and lawmakers, are the latest expression of concern at the impact on the freight industry of the country's plague of drug war violence, organized crime, and other delinquency. Some ports have also faced crime waves from cargo robberies and efforts to use them as a gateway for drugs.
Past studies have estimated that cargo worth billions of dollars is lost annually, especially to hijackings, in which robbers often create obstacles for trucks, forcing the driver to stop and allowing thieves to either grab control of the vehicle or force the driver to divert cargo to another site. In response, some shippers have turned to rail to transport freight, believing it is more secure because trains are harder to rob and rail theft is a federal crime.
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