Scandal could stall Mexican customs facility in Missouri

| 2/10/2006

A Mexican customs facility is scheduled to open in Kansas City, MO, in May, but a political scandal brewing south of the border could cause problems for the plan.

If it is opened, the $3.1 million facility would allow customs agents from both the U.S. and Mexico to inspect and seal trucks full of export goods and send them back out onto the North American Free Trade Agreement Corridor. An estimated 600 trucks per day could pass through the customs facility, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported than an investigation into the activities of the stepsons of Mexican President Vicente Fox has drawn attention to the Kansas City project, and not in a good way.

A Mexican congressional investigation is under way regarding allegations that the sons of Mexico’s first lady were involved in importing contraband from China. The congressional commission is considering requesting a formal briefing on the Kansas City project and the national customs system.

Lawmakers from Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party claim that Mexico’s customs agency overstepped its bounds in negotiating the project with the U.S. and they are concerned that corruption could reach that office as well.

However, trade analysts have dismissed the inquiry – which is sponsored by opponents of Fox – as little more than election-year politics as opposed to actual concerns over trade between Mexico and the U.S., The AP reported.

Mexico’s presidential elections are scheduled for July 2.