Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tons of drugs were smuggled through amazing tunnel network

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 18th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Traffickers smuggled tons of marijuana from Mexico into the United States through a sophisticated tunnel system that snaked the length of four football fields, authorities said. Set in a nondescript white warehouse in Southern California, authorities seized more than 14.5 tons of marijuana near the tunnel, cut into the warehouse's floor.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the drugs had a street value of more than $25 million.

"I'm confident that if these cartels want to continue to try to smuggle their drugs into the United States in this fashion, we're going to find them, and we're going to find them faster than they can build them," William R. Sherman, acting special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego said.

From the floor of the San Diego warehouse, the 3-foot-wide tunnel was equipped with structural supports, electricity and ventilation.

Highway troopers found three tons of marijuana packed into boxes inside a cargo truck that they stopped after it left the San Diego warehouse, which allowed agents to obtain a warrant to enter the warehouse where agents recovered 6.5 additional tons of marijuana. Mexican authorities later seized at least five tons of marijuana from a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, on the other end of the tunnel.

Sherman said it was the third sophisticated cross-border tunnel found in the area within a year.

U.S. federal authorities have found more than 75 cross-border smuggling tunnels in the past four years, most of them in California and Arizona, according to ICE.

Mexican cartels have traditionally used planes, boats and human backpackers to ship narcotics to the U.S. market. Crackdowns in Mexico have fueled a violent, four-year drug war there. A longer border fence and more robust US border patrols, may be leading cartels to increasingly focus their transportation routes on tunnels, authorities warn.

"The [tunnel-building] activity levels have been skyrocketing. It has to do with all the new border security," U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) agent Jose Garcia said.

Though the tunnels range from large concrete-reinforced passages to small hand-dug crawlways, most represent a significant investment by cartels in time and money, with some tunnels estimated to have cost millions of dollars to build.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)