NOGALES, Ariz. - Local agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are investigating an incomplete cross-border tunnel reported to the Nogales Police Department Wednesday.
The tunnel, with a 2-foot-by-2-foot opening, is about 10 feet deep and extends about 30 feet into the street. Investigators speculate the tunnel, when completed, would have connected with the drainage system which runs below the city and extends into Nogales, Sonora. The homeowner who found the passageway was renting out the home, located near East Street and North Nelson Avenue. The landlord made the discovery after going to the residence because the tenants had failed to pay their rent. The homeowner notified the Nogales Police Department, which requested ICE HSI and Border Patrol assistance to investigate.
"ICE HSI, the Border Patrol and the Nogales Police Department have developed a team approach to thwart drug smuggling organizations that attempt to use tunnels to move their narcotics into the United States," said Kevin Kelly, assistant special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Nogales. "The diligence of property owners and the citizens of Nogales goes a long way in helping us to target this type of criminal activity."
Agents from the Nogales Border Patrol station have examined both the tunnel and the nearby drainage system to ensure there were no further signs of tunneling or criminal activity. The agents determined that the incomplete tunnel had not yet been used for any smuggling activity.
ICE HSI agents are working with the homeowner to identify the tenants who leased the property. The Nogales Public Works department will remediate the tunnel to ensure it will not present a threat to public safety.