Past Features

May 25, 2017

Tunnels - a big problem? Maybe not

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VOA News -- May 24, 2017
Tunnels at US-Mexico Border Show Smugglers' Deep Commitment
    San Diego -- Drug smugglers trying to tap into the United States' highly profitable market have developed all kinds of secretive routes to deliver their illicit goods. One tactic is to go underground.
    At the U.S.-Mexico border, tunnels are a popular means of transporting illegal marijuana --- a bulky drug whose distinctive odor makes it hard to get past drug-sniffing dogs and other security at border checkpoints and airports. Since 1990, more than 220 tunnels have been discovered there, including 60 in the area overseen by the U.S. Border Patrol's San Diego office.
   "You see, it's an industrial area," agency spokesman Jose Hernandez says in explaining its attraction to traffickers.
    "We see many warehouses and many trucks passing by. It is common to see them at two in the afternoon or the morning," he adds. “It happens many times. So what [traffickers] do is they hide where everyone can see them anyway."
    Noise from constant truck traffic on the American side and dense urban construction on the Mexican side conceal the construction of secret tunnels. [...]
    To aid its detective work, the Border Patrol uses an assortment of complex tools, including ground-penetrating radar and sensors.

Glenn Spencer -- May 25, 2017
Don't try tunneling under the Rio Grande
    Last year the NY Times suggested that smugglers could defeat wall plans: As Donald Trump Calls for Wall on Mexican Border, Smugglers Dig Tunnels.
    Most border tunnels are dug near San Diego and Nogales where heavy traffic masks digging and use - and there are places on both sides of the border near enough to offer access. This is just not so on most of the border.
    As I pointed out in response to the Times story, American Border Patrol has been testing technology that could easily detect tunneling on at least 90% of the border between El Paso and San Diego.
    And, my advice to smugglers: Don't try tunneling under the Rio Grande River.