Drug cartels have made Nogales the tunnel capital of the Southwestern borderby Hugh Holub on Apr. 08, 2011, under border issues, border patrol, border patrol tucson sector, drug smuggling, mexican drug cartels, politics
Leo Banks, one of the best writers about border issues in America, has a great article about the drug tunnels in Nogales in this week’s Tucson Weekly….
…Think of Nogales, Ariz., as one bustling city above another. Subterranean Nogales exists within the elaborate maze of storm drains built following severe monsoon floods in 1930 and 1931.
They’re essential to the town’s survival. They keep Nogales from disappearing in the rain water that roars off the higher ground of Nogales, Sonora, and surges north through the pass that cradles both towns.
But the drains are also a kind of office park for smugglers. With illicit tunnels tapping into hundreds of existing drains, the total network is extensive, giving rise to jokes that the town might someday fall into a giant sinkhole.
The wisecracks aren’t far off. Last August, a cross-border tunnel weakened the ground at the DeConcini Port of Entry, causing a passenger bus to collapse the street beneath it.
Hugh Holub, a former Nogales city attorney now semi-retired in Tubac, once joked that Nogales should offer drug-tunnel tours as part of the tourist effort.
Within days of Holub’s joke, the Discovery Channel was on the phone with the Chamber of Commerce wanting to schedule a tour.
“The chamber was not amused,” says Holub. “It’s like we have giant termites digging around underneath town.”
It is frankly amazing the degree to which drug smugglers will go to meet the demands of their US consumers.
The photo here is one of our “baby sitters”…a Nogales police officer in full regalia to protect Nogales sewer workers going into the “covered tunnel”. What you can’t see in the picture is he is wearing rubber boots.
The “covered tunnel”is one of the most dangerous places in the country for anyone to go. Between the toxic waste flowing through the drainage tunnel, and drug smugglers armed with AK 47s running around down there, it is a hell hole.
Not so jokingly the “covered tunnel” is called the “cuisinart” because bullets ricochet down the tunnel.
It is also a massive national security risk because it runs right under the DeConcini Port of Entry and right next to to the railroad tracks that cross the border. At times there are tank cars loaded with sulphuric acid sitting at the line waiting to cross. A determined terrorist could set of a bomb in the tunnel under the port when the tank cars are sitting there and make 9/11 look like patty cake.