History of drug tunnels in the Desert Southwest

YUMA, Ariz. – Smugglers on the U.S. – Mexico border seem to become more advanced in moving drugs from a tunnel.

Back in 2012 federal drug agents discovered a 240-yard tunnel linking buildings in Mexico and Arizona. In April of 2015 another tunnel was found, Border Patrol agents located what they called a “sophisticated drug-smuggling” tunnel coming out of an area of the All-American Canal bank east of Calexico.

Richard Withers with Yuma sector Border Patrol says tunnels are a constant threat.

“Tunnels are a threat to national security and we’re constantly developing new technology with our partner in law enforcement to help us detect any problems that may develop,” says Withers.

The “sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel,” ran 55 feet below ground, begins in an ice plant in San Luis Rio Colorado, and ends inside a one-story, building in San Luis, that’s according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Withers says technology is constantly being developed to help detect pre-existing tunnels.

Withers says, “Aside from that, our agents are always staying vigilant along the border, working with other agencies to help detect any pre-existing or on-going tunnels.”

There are many different ways a smuggler can bring drugs across and a tunnel is just one of those ways, according to Withers.

Withers adds, “They’ll either backpack it in, they’ll drive it in, they’ll swim it in, they’ll fly it in, they’ll use drones, a tunnel is just another way they use it to bring drugs or humans across.”

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