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December 19, 2019Nogales, AZ, United StatesNarcotics, Contraband

ICE HSI Nogales exposes drug tunnel

NOGALES, Ariz. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and taskforce officers on the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) executed a federal search warrant late Tuesday night and discovered a tunnel along the U.S. Mexico border, seizing nearly 200 lbs. of methamphetamine, almost two pounds of white heroin, close to three pounds of cocaine, over six and a half pounds of fentanyl, in addition to arresting two individuals and seizing one vehicle.

The tunnel that runs from the residence on North Morley to the IOI measures eight feet deep and stretches 82 feet (entry to breach of the IOI). The IOI is a gravity wastewater pipeline that runs from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to Rio Rico, Arizona. The reinforced passageway features a sophisticated ventilation system equipped with tubing reinforced by several 2 x 4's and beams allowing for crawlspace. Special agents estimate the tunnel has been in existence for a few months due to the advanced construction and material used to excavate.

"It comes at no surprise that HSI special agents on the BEST and those on the Joint Port Enforcement Group (JPEG) dismantled an operational drug tunnel along the border," said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. "As this investigation makes clear, we remain focused on exposing border crime and combatting the cartels' increasingly unabashed underground smuggling tactics."

The investigation began earlier this year when investigators received information that a drug trafficking organization was smuggling large quantities of narcotics through the IOI. As the investigation progressed, HSI special agents obtained evidence to present to a federal judge for a search warrant. That evening, while executing the search warrant, agents uncovered the receiving end of the tunnel.

Those arrested, Jovany Robledo-Delgado and Jesus Martinez Selgado, both citizens of Mexico, were presented to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona in Tucson on charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute hard narcotics. They were initialed in federal court Wednesday afternoon.

The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated: 11/19/2020