The U.S. is trying to mount a high-tech effort to combat a labyrinth of tunnels built by Mexican drug cartels that could become conduits for terrorists, USA Today reports. “The threat posed by tunneling is a serious and growing concern for United States’ national security,” says the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology directorate, in a proposal for development of a tunnel-detection project. Homeland Security is offering $3 million over the next two years to companies that can devise better detection systems.
Homeland Security is setting up new technology under the Secure Border Initiative. The program, which could cost $7.6 billion or more over five years, will give border agents new high-definition cameras and sensors that can pick up cross-border traffic. The department also is using unmanned aerial vehicles to nab smugglers. Many of the more than 40 tunnels found under the U.S.-Mexican border since Sept. 11, 2001, are what “gopher holes” – small, shallow, hand-dug passages. A half-dozen more are outfitted with water pumps, ventilation systems, electricity, and rails to move drugs and people efficiently; they can be 80 feet underground.