By Brady McCombs
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.12.2009
advertisementU.S. Border Patrol agents have discovered a sophisticated but unfinished 83-foot-long tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales.
The tunnel has side walls framed with two-by-four wooden studs, ceiling construction and a hose used for ventilation, said Mike Scioli, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman. It is big enough for an adult to crawl through comfortably, he said.
The passageway started about 35 feet south of the border in Mexico inside an unused business and stretched under the border and 48 feet into the U.S. on its way to an abandoned warehouse.
But the tunnel never connected to that warehouse, about one-quarter mile east of the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry at East International Street and North Nelson Avenue in Nogales, Ariz., Scioli said.
Investigation of the tunnel began a week ago when a resident called to report hearing construction activity through a wall of the abandoned warehouse in Nogales, Ariz. That day, agents arrested two people trying to cut a hole in the floor of that building, Scioli said.
That incident, and further investigation, led to this week's discovery.
Unlike most tunnels found in Nogales — simple, hand-dug passageways that connect to the large underground storm-water drainage system — this one was much more elaborate and apparently was meant to go from building to building, Scioli said.
"This was done by some skilled workers," Scioli said. "They are running a billion- dollar smuggling organization over there, and I'm sure they have the money to fund something like this."
The tunnel is the 16th discovered in the Nogales area since Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal 2009. Since 1995, agents have found 47 tunnels in the city.
Border Patrol officials plan to fill in the tunnel with concrete soon, he said.
By Brady McCombs