DEA Finds New Drug Tunnel From Arizona to Mexico

An investigater combs through a drug tunnel found in a wherehouse on November 30, 2011 in Otay Mesa, California.

An investigater combs through a drug tunnel found in a wherehouse on November 30, 2011 in Otay Mesa, California.  (2011 Getty Images)

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents discovered an underground, well-lit and ventilated drug tunnel running 240 yards from Arizona into México.

The tunnel’s entrance was found inside a nondescript building in San Luis, Arizona. The 48-inch entrance, which was blocked by a water tank, dropped 55 feet into the ground where it reached the 6-ft tall tunnel lined with plywood and supported by 4 x 6 beams. The underground passage led to an ice plant in the Mexican state of Sonora.

“The recent discovery of this sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel is yet another reminder of how desperate these criminal organizations are and the extent they will go to further their drug dealing operations and endanger the security of our citizens,” said Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Phoenix Field Division in a statement released by the DEA.

The building had been under surveillance by the DEA since the beginning of the year and during that probe agents learned of a vehicle tied to the building had been stopped for a traffic violation. Officers at the traffic stop found 39 pounds of methamphetamine in the bed of the pick-up truck, allowing the DEA to obtain a warrant to search the building.

Like others discovered in the past, the tunnel was elaborately built with lights and a ventilation system. Officials also discovered various 55-gallon drums filled with dirt on the site. 

“I'm proud of the excellent work performed by detectives assigned to the Arizona Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division. Their tenacity really made the difference in uncovering the existence of this tunnel," said Robert Halliday, Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety in the DEA's report.

"I hope this sends a clear signal that state and local law enforcement will always work together to put these operations out of business,” he added.

Mexican military entered the tunnel from their side of the border, and have been helping the American officials in the investigation.

According to the DEA’s statement, there have been 89 cross-border tunnels discovered in Arizona and 50 in California in the past 10 years.

You can reach Viveka Garza-Gómez via Twitter: @ekita_2

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