TUCSON, ARIZ.—Federal authorities in the United States and Mexico shut down an incomplete, cross-border smuggling tunnel today during a bi-national border sweep in Nogales, Ariz.
Nogales Station Border Patrol agents working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) Tunnel Task Force (TTF) and federal police from Mexico, located an incomplete tunnel being dug west of the DeConcini port of entry early this morning. The tunnel extended five feet into the United States but did not open up into the country. The discovery was made during a bi-national patrol designed to systematically check existing infrastructure for vulnerabilities. Mexican authorities took one individual into custody who was actively digging.
BEST is a multi-agency Department of Homeland Security initiative, led by HSI, to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations seeking to exploit vulnerabilities along U.S. borders.
There are currently 34 BEST units deployed across the country, covering major seaports and southern and northern border regions. BEST units are composed of more than 750 law enforcement officers from more than 100 federal, state, local, tribal and foreign law enforcement and intelligence resources.
BEST Nogales TTF is composed of full time members from HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Nogales Police Department, the Santa Cruz County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. BEST Nogales TTF is responsible for identifying, investigating and eliminating illicit subterranean tunnels in one of the nation's busiest border areas with Mexico and combating the transnational criminal organizations that finance, build and use them.
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.