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New drug tunnels found under US-Mexico border

14 july 2012, 13:51
US and Mexican authorities have unearthed a 240-yard-long drug smuggling tunnel under their joint border in the state of Arizona, the latest such find in the violence-scarred region, AFP reports citing US officials.

The "sophisticated" six-feet high by two-feet wide (1.8-meter by 0.6-meter) tunnel, equipped with lighting and ventilation and located 55 feet underground, was discovered on Saturday when officers raided a business in the Arizona town of San Luis, which concealed the US entrance.

Three people were arrested, according to a statement about the US operation by federal and local law enforcement bodies.

The US raid was coordinated with the Mexican military, which entered an ice-making plant in the Mexican border town of San Luis Rio Colorado, the US statement said.

The tunnel's US entrance was located in a storage room hidden beneath a large water tank, in a one-story "nondescript" building. US authorities had been monitoring the business since January due to "suspicious activity."

The discovery "is yet another reminder of how desperate these criminal organizations are and the extent they will go to further their drug dealing operations," said Doug Coleman of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

"The DEA continues to work with our counterparts nationally and internationally to bring to justice these drug trafficking organizations as well as to block their smuggling routes into this country," he said.

Separately, to the far west of the border, the Mexican army found a tunnel that was being built in Tijuana in a warehouse some 300 meters away from the border.

"A tunnel under construction was found by a patrol while on an observation mission," General Gilberto Landeros, commander of the II Military Zone, told AFP.

The soldiers were suspicious when they saw a person running out of the area.

The Tijuana tunnel was 10 meters deep and about 150 meters long.

Last November two major drug smuggling tunnels were found near the Mexican border with California in Tijuana, one of them 400 yards long and the other 600 yards in length.

Over the past decade at least 86 tunnels have been discovered in Arizona, and 50 in California, officials said.

Some 45,000 people have been killed since 2006, when Mexico launched a major military crackdown against the powerful drug cartels that have terrorized border communities as they have battled over lucrative smuggling routes.

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