A new organization working at the Mariposa Port of Entry is making it easier for trucks with Mexican cargo to cross the border, while at the same time donating its profits to the community that surrounds the port.
The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County has a $10,000 check to prove it. So does the Maquiladora Association of Sonora.
These windfalls came from Port Devanning Services (PDS), a non-profit started on April 30 by the Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association to streamline the process of getting trucks across the border.
Those trucks are sometimes sent to secondary inspection to look for “bugs or drugs,” as Ken Lilley, operations manager at PDS, calls it. In order for the inspection to take place, the goods must be unloaded from the truck, a process known as devanning.
PDS’s goal is to “unload it in the most efficient fashion, without damaging any product, and get it back in the same condition as it was before,” Lilley said.
“The whole purpose is to get it through customs as fast as we can,” he said.
At least one local produce distributor has seen a marked improvement in devanning services at the port since PDS took over from G & F Produce Service, which called it quits earlier this year.
“It’s being handled in a much more professional manner,“ said Chris Ciruli, chief operations officer at Ciruli Brothers, a Nogales-based produce grower and distributor. “Services have improved and the prices have stayed the same. That’s a great combination.”
“They are in turn giving back to the community and that’s exactly what this place needs, what the county needs,” he said.
The recent donations are the first of many more to come, said Hector Lopez Monroy, president of both the customs brokers association and LM Brokerage & Logistics.
“The number one objective of the customs brokers association is to help the community,” he said, adding that with the non-profit PDS, “100 percent of our profits will have to be donated.”
PDS is planning to donate “quite a bit of money” every year, he said, putting the figure in the high six-figures. “My goal is to be one of the top donators in the state of Arizona,” Lopez said.
Among the future recipients will be the Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority, which he called “our voice in Washington.”
PDS will likely give out its next donation in December, he said.
Local high school students will also benefit in the form of college scholarships, Lopez said, as long as they give back to the community.
“If we pay for somebody’s college, we have to make some kind of condition that that individual has to come back to Nogales,” he said.
“We’re not going to export qualified individuals. They have to come back to the town of Nogales or Santa Cruz (County) and do something for the county or the city,” he said.
PDS has not given out any scholarships yet, but Lopez said that process will begin soon.