Tucson, Ariz. - A sink hole found in a Nogales city street two days before Christmas, west of the DeConcini port of entry, prompted city officials to contact the Nogales Border Patrol Station on Tuesday to investigate. The city had placed a steel plate over the sink hole as a temporary fix to facilitate street traffic during the pending holiday.
Agents inspecting the site discovered the street had caved in over a portion of a sophisticated tunnel. The tunnel was apparently still under construction with 2x4 wood shoring and plywood floors, walls and ceilings. The tunnel
measured 36 feet long and extended 25 feet into the United States.
The tunnel originates from the Grand Avenue Storm drainage system in Mexico. A plug of red brick and mortar was used to conceal the tunnels entrance. A rope, a bucket, and digging tools were found inside the incomplete tunnel. Smuggling organizations often use existing drainage tunnels to aide their smuggling attempts. Remediation will be completed on the uncompleted tunnel soon.
"Tunneling attempts present a threat to our homeland security," said Nogales Station Patrol Agent in Charge Alan F. White, "We aren't just worried about drugs and illegal aliens, but also about the potential of terrorists and their weapons entering our nation in this manner. We will continue to maintain our vigilance to ensure that we stop any threat before it enters our country."
This is the second illicit tunnel discovered in Nogales, Ariz., since October this year. Last fiscal year, a total of 20 tunnels were discovered. Cooperation between the Border Patrol and the City of Nogales has proven to be fruitful as they work together to remediate tunnels and repair damaged city infrastructure. Tunneling is a clear indicator of the frustration smugglers are experiencing and illustrates their willingness to use any means to continue illegal operations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.