NOGALES, Ariz. – An active drug smuggling tunnel was located and shut down here Tuesday following a multi-agency probe spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The U.S. entrance to the tunnel was concealed beneath the front porch of a home located approximately one-half mile west of the DeConcini Port of Entry. Further inspection revealed the tunnel ran south into Mexico, coming up inside a drainage tunnel that parallels the U.S./Mexico border on International Street.
ICE HSI agents obtained a state warrant to search the Nogales residence that housed the tunnel's U.S. entrance. During Tuesday's enforcement action, investigators recovered numerous excavation tools. ICE HSI is working closely on the investigation with the U.S. Border Patrol, the Nogales Police Department, and Mexico's Secretaria de Seguridad de Publica (SSP).
"This latest tunnel discovery shows that our ongoing collaborative enforcement efforts to combat drug and contraband smuggling along the Southwest border are having a significant impact," said Kevin Kelly, assistant special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Nogales.
The tunnel, which has some internal support structure, is approximately 70 feet long, three feet wide and two feet tall, and extends 25 feet into Mexico. The depth of the passageway ranges from four to 22 feet. The tunnel's entrances on both sides of the border have been secured by U.S. and Mexican authorities while the investigation continues.