'Sophisticated' smuggling tunnel found under U.S.-Mexican border

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent maps tunnel to Tijuana

In this undated photo provided by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a shovel sticks out of the sand as excavation work continues at a site of an incomplete tunnel intended for smuggling, found stretching from Arizona to Mexico.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found a smuggling tunnel along the U.S. -Mexico border on Tuesday that was described as the "most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history". A specialized camera was deployed 25 feet underground to investigate the gap revealing the cross-border tunnel.

Investigators started excavating around the tunnel late last month after a sinkhole was reported near the border wall.

"This seems to be probably the most sophisticated tunnel in USA historical past, and positively probably the most sophisticated I've seen in my profession", stated Carl E. Landrum, performing chief patrol agent with the Border Patrol's Yuma Sector. The 1,300-foot structure stretched from a neighborhood in San Luis, Mexico, to its destination in San Luis, Arizona.


Back in January, officials in US announced they'd found the longest ever US/Mexico smuggling tunnel, stretching from more than three quarters of a mile from an industrial unit in Tijuana on the Mexican side, right the way through to San Diego, California. "Despite the worldwide pandemic, HSI and our law enforcement colleagues remain resilient and committed to pursue unsafe criminal trans-border smuggling activities along the southwest border". It was built in an area that's not conducive to tunnels because of the terrain, and it had a ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, a rail system and extensive reinforcement, federal officials say.

Border Patrol agents found a sinkhole in mid-July while patrolling between the primary and secondary fencing near San Luis.

While the underground shaft was discovered prior to completion and did not reach the surface on the United States side of the border, ICE says it has dismantled the passage, which it believes was built for "smuggling purposes".

The investigation included HSI special agents, Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents, the San Diego Sector Tunnel Task Force, CBP Office of Field Operations officers, Drug Enforcement Administration's Yuma Resident Office agents, the San Luis, Arizona, Police Department, and Yuma County Sheriff's Office investigators. An immediate response was not available.

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