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Student Accused of Drug Smuggling Sues Ford

Ricardo Magallanes was driving from his home in Juárez, Mexico to the University of Texas El Paso when Border Patrol guards searched his car and found duffel bags bulging with marijuana in the trunk. Magallanes had been targeted by drug smugglers who, once they gained access to his car using Ford's key cut codes, planted drugs meant for nationwide distribution. Now he is suing the automaker for allowing the codes to fall into the wrong hands.

Key cut codes are used by automakers to create copies of keys. If an owner loses or damages their original set of keys, a dealership or locksmith can look up the key code in a database to make a duplicate by using the car's VIN. Ford is being accused of playing fast and loose with these codes -- so much so that drug smugglers could access thousands of records.

The El Paso Times reported Magallanes was arrested and held for three months after he was caught in 2010. Charges were only dropped after federal authorities busted the ring of smugglers.

Now he says Ford owes him actual damages, lost wages, mental anguish, lost earnings and punitive damages due to its negligence. Magallanes is arguing that the lynchpin to the smugglers plan was the easy access to Ford key cut codes.

Ford claims they are not responsible for the legal woes of their customers, but rather the person who accessed the codes and the smugglers themselves.

Out of five victims of the same smuggling ring, all but one of them drove a Ford. The key cut codes were traced to a single user account at a Dallas car dealership. That user accessed more than 5,000 codes in an 18-month period, including the codes for each car caught with marijuana at the border. Thousands of these codes belong to Ford vehicles registered all over the U.S., meaning multiple sources could be pulling from the same account, making the culprit untraceable.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 143 Comments
      neal.b
      • 1 Year Ago
      This kid is just looking for a deep pocket and Ford has a very deep one. Hopefully the trial judge will throw the matter out when Ford files for Summary Judgement. If the kid looses Ford ought to file a counter claim for expenses.
        Margaret
        • 1 Year Ago
        @neal.b
        Ford made it possible for keys to be made through one of their dealership. Ford needs to pay
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Margaret
          Thats the stupidest comment i've every read.Might as well say the next time somebody gets killed by a drunk driver their family should sue the farmer who grew the barley or wheat.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The manufacturer is NOT responsible for the criminal actions of a criminal. If a Maserati is used as the get away car in a bank heist, because it is extremely fast, and the robbers get away with ALL the cash, is Maserati liable for reimbursement? No, and neither is Ford (nor the other manufacturer, who is conveniently not listed)
        realfloopyguy
        • 1 Year Ago
        If the bank leaves your bank account numbers/checks/card numbers out where a thief can get them and they run up a $50,000 bill, is it your responsibility to pay that or the banks? This guy had thousands taken from him due to the dealership and/or manufacturer. If it had been faulty brakes or wheels and he had crashed the car into another, would Ford be responsible for the damage? Ford didn't wreck the car. Does Ford have any checks to keep this information from being used this way? Why didn't they notice a huge amount of extra checks on vehicle codes? It may be that Ford made no attempt to protect the consumers and the dealership did nothing either.
      • 1 Year Ago
      yeah..its FORDS fault. how very idiotic.
      ColorMyWorld2011
      • 1 Year Ago
      You'd think a college student would have more brains than to try and pull this over someones head. Coming from Mexico into the US, has always been a rough way to go. Always coming into US with some kind of 'hot' good and think they can't be caught. Why is he coming to the US to go to school? Does he have a visa?
        lilierosa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ColorMyWorld2011
        Just how poor are your reading comprehension skills? He was never charged - he's NOT guilty of any crime.
      amp81803
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is a scam. the guys who got caught all had vin numbers scanned and key codes at this one ford parts department in dallas Yet he did not know there was a 100 lbs of weed in his trunk and the others all cried wolf. Clever scam but you cant smell it Really
      • 1 Year Ago
      GZ is a killer
      rkhicks
      • 1 Year Ago
      Maybe this is a girl thing but this person didn't put ANYthing in his trunk and he was headed off to school for a semester?? Nahhhh ain't buyin' it...no way; no how...
        Fred
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rkhicks
        I agree with you, I don't buy this drug heads story either, he got caught once out of how many?
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can't believe the trolls on here writing in reaction to the victims' nationality! Ford screwed up. Case closed. Remark about immigrants someplace else! This guy was getting a college education! Half of you trolls couldn't GET into college!!!!!
        Handsome
        • 1 Year Ago
        How is this Fords fault? These codes are only available to bonded locksmith services. The 5,000 codes found to be accessed where for multiple manufacturers, and where from a single source. The criminal, and negligent party here would be that company in Dallas, not Ford. Just remember that the next time you need to get a set of keys that you lost.
        tw13ace
        • 1 Year Ago
        Ford did not screw up. The dealership employee did! So by your standards if someone hacks my wireless router then hacks into a bank and I get taken to jail I can sue apple or who ever made the router? No just no.
        dickn2000b
        • 1 Year Ago
        You're being much too generous. I doubt that 15% of the great unwashed that comment here could pass college entrance exams.
      • 1 Year Ago
      So, it did not raise a red flag at Ford when 1 dealer account needed 5,000 codes from a database they maintain?
        • 1 Year Ago
        Just like the NSA should have realized that Manning and Snowden were downloading gobs of secret stuff?
        Handsome
        • 1 Year Ago
        Read the article again, those 5,000 codes where for multiple automakers. And without actually knowing the account holder, let me give you an example of a company who has a single account number but accesses it daily for codes, sometimes as much as a thousand times. That would be the American Automobile Association. All it takes is one disreputable employee. This isn't Fords fault by any means.
        tw13ace
        • 1 Year Ago
        I work at a car dealer and I can tell you its very easy to get the codes. Certain automakers make it harder t get the codes then others but it still would not stop a crooked dealer employee.
      billcdaly
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is Fords fault as much as the phone was at fault in Anthony Weiner's sexting.
      Jacqueline
      • 1 Year Ago
      After working for Ford.... these key codes really are accessible to anyone who works in a dealership. In this region, most salesmen are addicts themselves. Key codes are accessible to everyone in a dealership, sales or otherwise. I think his point is valid. Though clearly the people who broke in his car are the actual criminals, Ford definitely needs to take steps to protect sensitive customer information better.
        juststeve35
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jacqueline
        Wrong. The onus is on the dealership, period. THEY assign who has access to the parts of FMCDealer that allow you see codes. THEY hire the people who are granted that access. Frankly, Jackie, EVERY MANUFACTURER HAS EASY ACCESS TO KEY CODES FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE CUSTOMER. smh More clueless dolts.
      dennis
      • 1 Year Ago
      Somebody bit iff a huge chunk of BS on this one. Who would be traveling from Mexico to the US and NOT check their trunk at any time during the trip to notice the unusual bags? Seriously? Is our Border Patrol that Naive or are their hands bound in seriously stopping drug runners? It sounds like the lawsuit is just a test case to see if they can make up for the lost money from the seized drugs. If they can get away with it here and now, it will be a portend of things to come. The driver will claim the drugs were'nt theirs, After they are freed for lack of evidence....they can sue to recover lost funds for being so stupid as to get caught in the first place. make money with less hassle.....all legal.
        jdsept
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dennis
        YOU did read "Charges were only dropped after federal authorities busted the ring of smugglers' Doesn't that mean they think he was not involved? Where he lives and his University are very close. I doubt few actually crossing borders actually look into their own trunks.
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