Securing leads from trusted informants and armed with seismic devices, acoustics and ground-penetrating radar technology, United States Border Patrol agents nicknamed as “tunnel rats” are tirelessly on the lookout for signs of narco tunnels along the U.S.-Mexico border. Such tunnels have proliferated all across San Diego and Mexico’s Tijuana. They are being used for smuggling of illicit drugs, especially marijuana and methamphetamine whose distinctive odor makes it tough to get past drug-sniffing canine squads and other security personnel at border checkpoints.
The latest Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) annual survey highlights 224 border tunnels originating in Mexico from 1990 to March 2016, including 185 that entered the U.S. The high success rates of tunneling activities can be attributed to the noise from constant truck traffic on the American side and dense urban construction on the Mexican side.
The 2,000 miles of international border stretching from San Diego in California to Brownsville in Texas is one of the largest hotspots of narcotic trafficking activities. Digging trans-border narco tunnels has been one of the most convenient options for transporting illicit and harmful drugs from the Mexican side.
The demand for drugs in the profitable American markets has created a colossal cross-border drug trafficking network, which forces drug dealers to resort to creative ways to get their wares into the U.S. territory. The far-flung and scantily populated landscapes and adequate commercial infrastructure in these areas provide a host of opportunities for drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) to engage in cross-border tunneling activities. Since the discovery of the first narco-tunnel in 1990, which ran 273 feet from a palatial house in Agua Prieta, Mexico to a warehouse in Arizona, law enforcement agencies on both the sides have busted many such attempts.
Investigations in the past have attributed many such clandestine underground passageways to ingenious minds of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel that controls these regions. Apart from the Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, Juarez Cartel, Los Zetas Cartel and Arellano Felix Cartel are some of the main DTOs, which pose an unending threat of illicit drugs crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Detecting drug tunnels is not an easy task, say authorities
Narco tunnels are extremely sophisticated underground passages, which are almost undetectable. The entrances to these clandestine tunnels are tucked away in covered shelters or private establishments, such as warehouses, with their own lighting and ventilation systems and other state-of-the-art underground infrastructure. In recent years, drug cartels have started deploying drilling equipment to dig cross-border tunnels as narrow as six inches crisscrossing the southwestern border, thereby making it even easier to dodge federal agents and to carry out their nefarious activities. Nowadays, the unfinished Galvez tunnel discovered in 2009, which was intended to link the Mexican side to San Diego neighborhood of Otay Mesa, serves as a training site for Border Patrol agents.
Generally, when a narco-tunnel is discovered, authorities seal it completely with cement to prevent misuse. Media reports suggest that from 2007 to 2015, the Department of Homeland Security spent $8.7 million to block the tunnels with concrete. Lance LeNoir, supervisor of the Border Patrol Entry Team in San Diego, says that they have tested almost every viable technology on the planet in vain. Lamenting on the effectiveness of the current tunnel detection equipment, he said that the costs to develop customized technology catering to his teams’ needs were unfortunately on the higher side, and they were compelled to resort to more traditional approaches to deal with the ongoing crisis. Authorities generally rely on human intelligence, monotonous investigative techniques, standard outreach programs and old-school police work, involving a great deal of patience and man-hours.
Meanwhile, tunnels aren’t the only way narcotics and other illicit substances make their way from Mexico to the U.S. It is hard to ignore the fact that the creative juices of cross-border drug smugglers never dry out, they flow perennially at all times.
Journey to recovery
Authorities attribute the surge in narcotic trafficking along the Southwest border to the insatiable demand for drugs among American consumers. Aimed at raising awareness of the colossal problem that illegal drugs represent to society across the globe, the UN General Assembly observes June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with a special focus on creating an international society free of drug abuse.
Nevertheless, the truth is most individuals fall prey to addiction more quickly than they might ever realize. The only way to break free from the clutches of deadly substances is to undergo a specialized treatment for addiction at a professional drug addiction rehab center to combat their life-wrecking effects.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances despite the negative impact on his or her life. At Sovereign Health of San Clemente, our customized addiction recovery programs are designed to treat the person holistically. If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to any drug, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know about the most effective rehab programs at centers.