American and Mexican law enforcement have been finding an increasing number of underground tunnels, used for drug trafficking, of late. Some have electricity and ventilation, while others are hidden beneath sinks.Mexican drug cartels have always been creative and illusive in transporting drugs across borders and into the homes, and bodies, of users. In the past, catapults, submarines, and extremely small aircrafts have been used. But the tunnels, and subsequent discovery of them, is a rather new development, one small town in southern Arizona finding itself at ground zero of it all: Nogales, Arizona.
Since 1995, nearly 100 tunnels have been discovered linking the small, quiet town to Sonora, Mexico, its larger, and dominantly cartel controlled border buddy. The number is rapidly rising too, 22 functioning tunnels being discovered in just the past three years, reports Adam Higginbotham of Businessweek.
What’s to blame for this uptick?
As border security was strengthened and inspection efforts made more thorough, cartels had to figure out a new route. Tunnels were the answer.
While the sophisticated one’s make news, most are quite rudimentary, characterised by hand dug, dirt walled, oxygen deprived passageways often so small one must lay and crawl belly down. Aside from squiggling their bodies through entrance ways, crawling through the dirt, and the possibility of running into an armed cartel member on the way, law enforcement agents have to constantly worry about the passageways caving in on them. The work is tough, dangerous, and to some, it doesn’t seem to be making much progress.
As Anthony Coulson, a former DEA agent, told Businessweek, in Nogales, a pound of marijuana at wholesale pricing currently goes for about $400 a pound.
“That’s never changed,” Coulson says, “in 30 years.”
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