Underground Trafficking: Drugs Enter US from Mexico via Tunnels

As the war on drugs continues to wage on against traffickers and users, federal and local officials begin to uncover new ways drugs are being funneled into prime locations such as the United States – tunnels. Tunnels under the border between Mexico and the United States have become one of the many ways traffickers move drugs across the border without being detected.

In early July, a 240 yard long tunnel under the US and Mexico border was discovered by federal drug agents and the Mexican army. (BBC July 2012) The tunnel located 55 feet below ground ran from an ice plant in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico and ended in an unopened business building in San Luis, Arizona. (CNN July 2012)

The tunnel which ran more than two football fields long was equipped with electric lights, ventilation, six-foot ceilings, and carts which would have been used to push the drugs under the border. Federal officials believe the tunnel is possibly linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel. (ABC July 2012)

The discovery of the tunnel was a product of Arizona police who have been watching the Arizona building since January 2012. After finding 39 lbs of methamphetamine inside a stopped pickup truck on July 6th, the police were led back to the abandoned building and subsequently discovered the covert tunnel operation. However the find did not yield a substantial drug bust as there were no drugs located in the building on the United States side of the border; only bags and barrels of dirt. (CNN July 2012)

Doug Coleman, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s Phoenix, AZ office stated, “the recent discovery of this sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel is yet another reminder of how desperate criminal organizations are and the extent they will go to further their drug dealing operations…” (CNN July 2012) Coleman estimates the tunnel cost $1 million to $1.5 million to construct and took a year to complete. (ABC July 2012) However, despite the time and cost, the tunnel was most likely not operational for a long period of time.

In the past 3 years, 22 tunnels have been discovered under the US and Mexico border.

In the past 7 years, 119 tunnels have been discovered on the southern United States border.

In the past 10 years, 89 cross border tunnels have been found in Arizona and 50 have been found in California.

At this point in time, only 1 tunnel have been discovered on the United States and Canada border.

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