Authorities are finding record numbers of tunnels on the U.S.-Mexican border, which the Arizona Republic says signals that Mexican drug cartels are desperate to circumvent the hundreds of miles of new border barriers. Most tunnels have been discovered along the border in Arizona, a state that has seen many new border barriers. Since the 2006 federal Secure Border Fence Act, smugglers have bored 32 known tunnels into Arizona, more than all the tunnels discovered in the state before.
As the U.S. government plans and builds more fences and vehicle blockades, law-enforcement agents expect to find more excavations. They say tunneling, a tricky and sometimes expensive undertaking, reflects smugglers’ growing frustration with the security buildup along the border. The U.S. has been working to complete 670 miles of new pedestrian and vehicle fencing by the end of 2008. The Border Patrol also is hiring more agents. The tunnels range from large concrete-reinforced ones allowing smugglers to pass through to tubes a foot or two wide that are designed to transfer drug bundles. Most drugs still are smuggled through the open desert or concealed inside vehicles crossing the ports of entry.