Drug smugglers’ tunnel vision on show

0
Have your say

Two sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnels outfitted with lighting and ventilation systems have been discovered along the US-Mexico border.

Both were at least 150 yards long. One, found on Wednesday by the Mexican army, began under a bathroom sink inside a warehouse in Tijuana but was unfinished and did not cross the border into San Diego.

The other was complete and discovered on Saturday in a vacant strip mall storefront in the south-western Arizona city of San Luis.

It showed a level of sophistication not typically associated with other crude smuggling passageways that tie into storm drains in the state.

Douglas Coleman, special agent in charge of the Phoenix division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said: “When you see what is there and the way they designed it, it wasn’t something that your average miner could put together.

“You would need someone with some engineering expertise to put something together like this.”

As US authorities heighten enforcement on land, tunnels have become an increasingly common way to smuggle loads of heroin, marijuana and other drugs into the country.

More than 70 passages have been found on the border since October 2008, surpassing the number of discoveries in the previous six years.

A total of 156 secret tunnels have been found along the border since 1990, the vast majority of them incomplete.

The latest Arizona tunnel was discovered after state police pulled over a man who had 39 pounds of methamphetamine in his vehicle and mentioned the strip mall.

It was found beneath a water tank in a storage room and stretched across the border to an ice-plant business in the Mexican city of San Luis Rio Colorado. It was reinforced with four-by-six beams and lined with plywood.

Back to the top of the page