State Watch

Newsom vows crackdown: Rail car looting like ‘third world country’

AP.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) visited the site of a recent wave of freight train looting and said it “looked like a third world country,” according to reports. 

“It looked like a third world country, these images, the drone images that were on the nightly news,” Newsom said on Thursday as the tracks were being cleared, Reuters reported.

“This is not a one-off. This is organized theft. They’re organized groups of folks that move from site to site,” Newsom added in a video shared by the wire service. 

Newsom visited Union Pacific train tracks in the city to “highlight a multiagency effort to clean up the railway,” combat theft and hold the perpetrators responsible, NewsNation reported.

Union Pacific issued a statement on Sunday saying the thefts involve “criminals trespassing on Union Pacific property, climbing aboard trains and breaking into customers’ containers loaded with cargo, packages and merchandise destined to warehouse facilities around the country.”

However, it added that while agents have made hundreds of arrests, less than half of those arrested are booked and some are released in less than 24 hours. 

The railroad company added that rail thefts have increased by 160 percent in Los Angeles County and have spiked in the past three months during the peak holiday season. In October 2021, thefts from Union Pacific trains rose 356 percent when compared to October 2020.

Union Pacific said it had sent a letter to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Dec. 20, asking for help ensuring that there are “consequences for those who prevent the railroad from safely moving customer goods.”

A group of Republican members of Congress on Thursday sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for federal assistance in cracking down on thefts that have disrupted the supply chain, The Associated Press reported.

The Hill has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.

The term “third world” is often used by lawmakers and politicians in a negative connotation to describe unpleasant events taking place in the U.S. Both Presidents Biden and Trump have previously referred to U.S. airports as “third world” when advocating for the country to invest in improving its infrastructure.

Tags California Gavin Newsom Los Angeles Merrick Garland organized theft

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