Your July 31 Pre-Trip: Investigators dismantle human smuggling ring

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. U.S. Homeland Security investigators dismantled a South Texas ring that illegally smuggled thousands of immigrants across the border from Mexico, the Associated Press reports. According to the report, immigrants were tucked in small, dangerous truck crawl spaces. Nearly two dozen people were charged with human smuggling last week, and, according to the report, about 150 Central American and Mexican immigrants were shipped weekly. The immigrants paid about $5,000 each for the trip, AP said. Those charged face up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.

2. Congress passed a three-month highway funding patch just one day before the deadline for a cutoff of funds. According to the Deseret News, earlier on Thursday, the Senate passed a long-term transportation bill and set up discussion with the House on what the future course of transportation policy should be and how to pay for programs. Lawmakers said they hope the three-month patch will be Congress’ last, Deseret News said. This marks the 34th short-term transportation extension since 2009.

3. States are feeling the impacts of federal cutbacks in federal and local transportation funding, PBS NewsHour reports. PBS explores the federal funding needs in Oregon, where there hasn’t been proper funding to upgrade and renew infrastructure. In many cases, according to the report, the state has been patching together and trying to keep old bridges operational and safe. PBS has more.

4. Shippers and carriers are being urged to prepare for new food safety regulations, JOC reports. The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in January, is the biggest overhaul in decades to federal food safety laws, JOC said. A study by Hanover Research found that food preparedness levels in the industry, including in the trucking sector, have been inconsistent. According to JOC, some highlights of the study reveal: Temperature controlled requirements are key concerns, most companies don’t use telematics or data loggers to track shipment temperature, and most respondents have not discussed the Sanitary Transportation of Food rule with their shipper customers. JOC has more.

5. All six New England states are cracking down on speeders, Mass Live reports. Law enforcement officials in New England have come together and launched a program to reduce speed-related crashes, injuries and deaths. According to the report, “Some of the gear that will be used in the crackdown will be on display at the Quincy park, including helicopters, motorcycles, marked and unmarked cruisers, and mobile breath alcohol testing equipment and apparatus.”

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