Drug tunnels are becoming more and more popular between the border of Mexico and Arizona. This is a fairly new tactic used in place of some previous tactics such as the catapults launching bales of drugs over the border fence.
In October of 2011, several tunnels were found in the Arizona border town of Nogales. As it turned out, they were beneath the concrete of a parking lot. So for the cost of a 25 cent parking meter, drug smugglers could park and pass drugs and money through a cut out in the concrete right in front of border patrol officers.
U.S. Border Patrol agents found 16 tunnels leading to 18 metered parking spaces. The spaces have been filled and parking meters removed. The parking meters were a boon to the economy and will cause the city to lose about $8,500 in parking revenue each year, plus the citations issued for expired meters. But the safety of the community was a higher price tag than that.
Recently though, another tunnel was discovered. This time it was a well-lit and ventilated tunnel that ran a full 240 yards between Arizona and Mexico.
The entrance to the tunnel was in a building in San Luis, AZ. It was hidden behind a water tank, but the 48-inch entrance dropped 55 feet into the ground. At the bottom of the drop was a 6 foot tall tunnel lined with plywood and supported by 4 x 6 beams. The path, which was well planned and sturdily built, opened up in an ice plant in the state of Sonora, Mexico.
The DEA had been watching the area since the beginning of the year. It was the traffic stop of a truck associated with that building that helped officers solve the case. The bed of the pick-up truck was loaded with 39 pounds of methamphetamine, giving the DEA reasonable cause for obtaining a search warrant.
According to the DEA, there have been 89 cross-border tunnels discovered in Arizona and another 50 tunnels in California over the past 10 years.