According to CBS News, in the last 29 years, border patrol agents have discovered at least 230 tunnels under the border between Mexico and the United States, ending up in either Arizona or California.
Kevin Hecht, the deputy patrol agent in charge in Nogales, told CBS News while he was in a storm drain, “This is already in place built by the cities to drain water. What they’re building is tapping into this and they’re building an illicit tunnel.” CBS News reported, “Earlier this month, the Mexican federal police discovered a tunnel that accessed a sewer system that flows into the United States and just last month Border Patrol sealed an unfinished tunnel that crossed into Arizona.”
Hecht commented on the training border patrol agents undergo: “In training you’ll go in this pipe and you’ll go ‘Ok, I’m above ground and crawling in a pipe, everything is fine,’ Ok let’s put you somewhere under some earth and see how you react … They’re smuggling contraband into these pipes … so we need to make that stop, so the point is to find those, remediate the tunnel, fill it with concrete and move on to the next pipe.”
Last October, The Guardian reported that in September, Mexican police had discovered an incomplete cross-border drug smuggling tunnel that had a rail track and a solar-powered lighting and ventilation system. The tunnel ran 627 feet, of which more than half was under California.
In March 2016, The Guardian noted, “Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has long controlled drug trafficking along the border in California’s Imperial Valley, which offers easy freeway access to Los Angeles and Phoenix. Authorities have found a number of tunnels in the region in recent years, including an underwater tunnel through which a trafficker swam in scuba gear to deliver vacuum-sealed packages of drugs.”
On Thursday, the Engineering News-Record explained , “Customs and Border Protection fills the tunnels with concrete after investigations are concluded. In Mexico, only the entrances are closed. Several identified tunnels have later been accessed at new entry points. Customs and Border Protection spent $8.7 million to fill border crossing tunnels since 2007, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.”
In August 2017, CNN reported that 30 illegal immigrants suspected of crossing into the United States were arrested in San Diego. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stated, “U.S. Agents searched the area and discovered a crude opening in the ground with a ladder inside and determined that is was a smuggling tunnel. The tunnel’s exit is located just north of the secondary fence in the vicinity of the Otay Mesa port of entry. The 30 aliens are now in Border Patrol custody pending further questioning. While subterranean tunnels are not a new occurrence along the California-Mexico border, they are more commonly utilized by transnational criminal organizations to smuggle narcotics. However, as this case demonstrates, law enforcement has also identified instances where such tunnels were used to facilitate human smuggling. Preliminarily it appears this latest tunnel may be an extension of an incomplete tunnel previously discovered and seized by Mexican authorities.”