Customs and Border Patrol agents in Nogales, Ariz. this week discovered a cross-border tunnel exiting under the wooden front porch of a rental home in the city. The agents tracked the tunnel seventy feet into Mexico where it emerged into an underground drainage system. According to authorities, the tunnel was used by criminals in order to smuggle bundles of marijuana across the border to the rental home, where they would be lifted up through a plank in the front porch and loaded into a vehicle. There have yet to be any arrests made in the case.
Of course this is not the first time that cross-border tunnels have been discovered in Ambos Nogales, with the Arizona Daily Star’s Brady McCombs referring to the city as “the tunnel capital of the U.S.-Mexico border.” As of August of this year, twelve tunnels had already been discovered in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector. In one of the most inventive examples of such cross-border tunneling, CBP agents reportedly discovered a network of sixteen tunnels leading to metered parking spaces on Nogales’ International Street, where criminals would neatly cut holes in the pavement and lift bundles of narcotics into parked vehicles above. The holes would then be neatly replaced, hiding any evidence of the tunnels beneath.
As reported by the Daily Star’s Brenna Goth, the border tunnels are a particular nuisance for landlords who rent property in the area. Responsible property owners are forced to inspect their rental homes on a frequent basis, as these properties are the ones most commonly used by smugglers as exits for their tunnels. This is due to the high cost of actually purchasing a home, but also because the smugglers know that if caught, a house that they own may be confiscated by the government. Nogales landlords have actually become an increasingly important tool in the CBP arsenal, as these individuals often provide valuable information to agents regarding potential smuggling tunnels.
The ever-increasing number of tunnels found along the Arizona-Sonora border is evidence of a single important fact: people are desperate to get into this country. And no matter what measure U.S. authorities take to seal off the border, the desire to journey across it is not lessening. As the state of Arizona, the federal government and the U.S. public funnel millions of dollars into fence construction, it is important to realize that a simple fence is little impediment to many individuals desperate to make their way into the U.S. any way they can.