Friday, July 13, 2012

'Extraordinary' U.S.-Mexico drug tunnel may be Sinaloa cartel's


SAN LUIS, Ariz. — The powerful Sinaloa drug cartel is believed to be behind one of the most sophisticated and well-engineered smuggling tunnels ever found along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to U.S. drug enforcement officials who announced the discovery Thursday in Yuma.

The “fully operational” tunnel is a 755-foot passageway, tall enough for a 6-foot person to walk through, that burrows under the border fence, a park and a water canal. It connects a small, nondescript warehouse on the U.S. side to an inoperative ice manufacturing plant behind a strip club in Mexico.

It is outfitted with lights, fans and a ventilation system. The vertical shafts on both sides of the border descend 57 feet, creating what officials said were significant engineering challenges.

PHOTOS: Sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel

“I would suspect that professional engineers were cooperating with the builders, if not working on site,” said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA's Phoenix field office. He said construction might have taken at least a year and cost an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million.

It was unclear how much, if any, contraband may have been smuggled through the recently completed tunnel, but authorities said its existence was exposed by the seizure last week of a 39-pound load of methamphetamine. The drugs were found by state police during a traffic stop on the highway between San Luis and Yuma and then traced back to the warehouse.

Two couriers were arrested, one of them a U.S. citizen. A third person also has been arrested in a case that Coleman said was “only beginning.” Coleman declined to answer questions about the continuing investigation.

DEA investigators who searched the warehouse found tons of sandy soil stored in dozens of 55-gallon drums. The stored dirt “suggested there must be a tunnel,” Coleman said at a news conference Thursday.

Access to the tunnel was located under a 2,000-gallon water tank that could be moved only with the use of a forklift. Investigators found the vertical shaft lined with 4-by-6-inch wooden planks. The tunnel itself is lined with plywood and reinforced with the same planks. It is about 6 feet 6 high and 4 feet wide.

On the Mexico side, access was found in the ice house, where investigators also found stacks of 200-pound seed bags apparently filled with additional tons of excavated sand and dirt. Entry to the vertical shaft was underwater. Investigators had to drain a large tank to get to it.

Asked to compare the tunnel to nearly 140 others found along the Mexican border with Arizona and California in the past 10 years, Coleman said he had seen nothing like it. “It's an extraordinary piece of engineering,” he said.

The one-story warehouse, part of a strip mall only a few steps from the San Luis border crossing, had been under surveillance by DEA agents for several months as a suspected stash location. The ice house also had been a suspect site in the past, raided at various times in recent years by Mexican drug agents without anything suspicious turning up.

Coleman said that although the people behind the tunnel had yet to be identified, “it's a good guess” that it will be tied to the Sinaloa cartel and people employed by drug boss Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman.

DEA officials said estimates that the tunnel could have cost as much as $2 million were based on initial analysis of the materials used in construction. They speculated that sophisticated underground sensors and directional devices might have been used to assure that the tunnel from the Mexico side actually met the vertical shaft under the San Luis warehouse.

Also found at the warehouse were two vans formerly operated by the U.S. Postal Service, faded remnants of their identifying decals still visible. Investigators believe the cartel intended to disguise some of its drug shipments as U.S. mail.

Jay Crede of Homeland Security Investigations said the tunnel was of obvious concern to his department, but he celebrated its discovery. He called the loss of the tunnel “a blow to … traffickers.”

Another DEA veteran, Coleman aide Chris Feistl, went further. “As drug cases go, we didn't get a whole lot of dope in this seizure,” he said, “but when you think about how much cartel time and effort and money went into this tunnel — we really ruined somebody's day.”

The 39 pounds of methamphetamine has an estimated wholesale value to the cartel of nearly $700,000. Its street value is about five times higher.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

From beaner to mole.

Anonymous said...

Obama's answer to this is closing even more border control posts. My God what an asshole the Pres. is.

Anonymous said...

mr southsides has one of those dug from his house to beatrices.

Anonymous said...

gotta give em credit, willie would have drowned or gone to lunch and not come back,

Anonymous said...

You should have photoshopped a picture of Eric Holder in that tunnel carrying a bunch of firearms to a mexicali wearing a sombrero.

Anonymous said...

Hey,the economy sucks and those college grads need to get a real paying job.Why not put your engineering degree to work???

I Voted For Obama said...

Obaqma voters will be transported to and from on election day.

Anonymous said...

That is sort of impressive!

I heard that project was paid for by the Obama Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

After all, that tunnel was shovel ready!!

Anonymous said...

Just another Failure by the Obama Administration.

Barack Hussein Obama,
just plain Creepy

Anonymous said...

New Name for Tunnel:

The Eric Holder Underground Highway

Anonymous said...

That tunnel is nothing, you should see the tunnel Daley had dug out from his downtown Dig's to his Grand Beach Vacation House in Michigan!

Anonymous said...

What Chicago Machine construction company built that thing,probably with tax payer dollars too.

Anonymous said...

Wanna bet that this is just one of several tunnels dug at the same time? I'm betting that the loss of this tunnel is more a nuisance than anything else.

Now, given all the tunnels, killings, border fence climbings, swimmings, submarines, smuggling trucks, etc. that are employed to try and stop Some Drugs from getting into this country, why don't we just fucken stop fooling ourselves that we'll ever stop the flow and move on to reasonable regulation and taxation of the substances?

Pull the rug out from under the black market... Oh wait, my bad, Government makes a lot of money on this shit...

Out of the car Motherfucker!!! said...

When they find a tunnel, pump it about a third full of gasoline, light it up and shoot who ever runs out!!!!! The fuckheads will get the message real quick!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks just like my basement minus the Metzacans and drugs.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
You should have photoshopped a picture of Eric Holder in that tunnel carrying a bunch of firearms to a mexicali wearing a sombrero.

He probably helped dig the tunnel!

Anonymous said...

THAT WAS A GOOD ONE

Anonymous said...

CONNIE CONCEIVED MANY ANCHOR BABIES IN THIS TUNNEL

Anonymous said...

Shaved, that's almost as big as the hole in your head!

Anonymous said...

Commander Mummmbles licks mangina

Anonymous said...

Bazinga.

Mr. SouthSide said...

There used to be a tunnel between my dad's place and Beatrice's. She could stay open a lot later then and everyone could run to our house if the cops came.

Beatrice had to block it off though. One day my crazy uncle got drunk and drank all of her PBR and pissed all over the floors.