Thursday, September 20, 2007


TxDOT warning of imposters


Shelton Green
KENS 5 Eyewitness News
Copyright 2007

Investigators have known drug smugglers are using fake Texas Department of Transportation trucks to move their goods all over Texas, but now officials know how extensive the operation is.

TxDOT officials are supposed to be in charge of making sure Texas' 80,000 miles of roadway are in good shape.

"We're the ones that are supposed to be driving down the highway at night or day, looking for problems and taking care of business," TxDOT spokesman Mark Bell said.

In August, however, TxDOT was questioned about what kind of business workers were taking care of, after Department of Public Safety troopers found what turned out to be a fake TxDOT truck smuggling drugs.

"Obviously, we hate the fact that it's tarnishing our image, because our employees are not doing that; it's the people impersonating our agency," Bell said.

Investigators said the fake truck found in East Texas was carrying 1,000 pounds of marijuana. The driver was arrested.

Troopers had been on the lookout after a TxDOT employee in South Texas stumbled across a fake TxDOT employee driving a fake truck weeks before.

He noticed something about the truck wasn't right.

"The individual had a TxDOT logo on the door, which was absolutely correct, but it was the reflective stripes on the side of the vehicle, as well as the back of the vehicle, and the numbering system (that was incorrect)," Bell said.

Now, TxDOT is putting its employees on alert statewide.

"TxDOT finding out about it immediately, let them know, feel free to pull over any of our vehicles at anytime. We'll make our employees aware of it. We certainly don't want the drugs hitting the streets, and we certainly don't want our employees being put in harm's way," Bell said.

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