Are there fewer drug tunnels in Nogales?by Hugh Holub on Aug. 31, 2010, under politics
In last week’s Border Patrol Community Informational report, the discovery of a drug tunnel at the Deconini Port of Entry was noted. A bus started sinking into the pavement at the DeConcini Port of Entry.
In the report, the Border Patrol noted that ”From Oct 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010, five tunnels were identified within the Tucson Sector. During the same period last year, 20 tunnels were discovered.”
So does that mean there are fewer drug tunnels being dug in Nogales?
I don’t think so.
Most of the drug tunnels discovered in Nogales are not found by the Border Patrol. They are found by City of Nogales Public Works Department people digging trenches for water and sewer lines or doing road work.
Others are discovered by landlords who get suspicious about their tenants and inspect the rental unit only to find a room full of dirt and a hole in the floor of a closet.
Some are found by accident when a street or sidewalk just caves in.
There is a joke in Nogales that someday its entire downtown will collapse into a giant sink hole due to the many drug tunnels under the city.
Most of the drug tunnels that have been discovered start inside the city and go to the city’s storm drainage system which in turn empties into the “covered tunnel” which is a giant drainage channel running under both Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona.
Smugglers use the “covered tunnel” to go back and forth between the US and Mexico. This is one of the most dangerous places in the area and has been called the “Cuisinart” because bullets flying down the tunnel ricochet.
As Acting Public Works Director of Nogales for a couple of years, my guys stumbled into a lot of drug tunnels. I think we found 17 in the 2 year period I ran the operation. We were doing a lot of digging. Maybe the only reason fewer tunnels have been discovered lately is the Nogales Public Works Department isn’t digging as many water and sewer line trenches as they used to.
We had a remote camera on tracks that we’d feed down into a newly discovered drug tunnel. Amazing some of the work done on the tunnels. Some even had ventilation and lights.
Few of the drug tunnels actually cross the border. But the one recently discovered apparently went right under the port of entry.
Landlords discovering drug tunnels in their rented buildings was an interesting problem. What do you do when you find out your tenant has dug a tunnel out from under the rental unit? Pour a lot of concrete down the hole was the usual answer….not at taxpayer expense by the way. Not the city’s problem if you rented to a mole.
As the Border Patrol notes:” Tunnels are an indicator of smugglers’ growing desperation and an example of the lengths they will go to smuggle contraband.”
Stopping illegal smuggling is not just an “on the surface” effort. It also entails using ground penetrating radar and a lot of other things to catch the tunnels.
From Border Patrol Community Informational report August 26, 2010:
(NOGALES) U.S. Border Patrol agents working in cooperation with local and federal law enforcement agencies identified a new clandestine tunnel Friday under the southbound lane at the DeConcini Port of Entry.
After the weight of a passenger bus traveling south caused a collapse in the road, officers from Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations responded to the scene and then contacted the Nogales Border Patrol to asses the possibility of an illicit tunnel.
Agents from Nogales Station’s tunnel team, with assistance from Mexican law enforcement officers, responded and discovered an unfinished tunnel originating in Mexico, connecting to the Grand Avenue tunnel north of the border. No injuries or vehicle damage was reported. The tunnel will be remediated immediately.
Tunnels are an indicator of smugglers’ growing desperation and an example of the lengths they will go to smuggle contraband. The effectiveness of Border Patrol agents forces smugglers underground as they seek alternative methods for passing their illicit cargo. From Oct 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010, five tunnels were identified within the Tucson Sector.
During the same period last year, 20 tunnels were discovered.
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