As drug-enforcement efforts have increased and barriers have been built along the southwestern U.S. border, tunneling has gained in popularity, with Nogales, Az., becoming the capital, says the New York Times. Last week, the Border Patrol was filling an underground tunnel that had been discovered right under the immigration checkpoint in Nogales. Even before the concrete was poured to make that tunnel inoperative, another subterranean passageway was discovered a block away.
The second tunnel, which had been used to bring bales of marijuana from Mexico, will be filled as well. There are patches, in fact, all across this city, where the authorities have tried to tap the tunnels that traffickers build off the extensive underground storm drain system that connects Nogales with another city by the same name across the border in Mexico. With profit margins so huge, drug traffickers pushing their wares across the border are an enterprising lot. No matter how much the U.S. government pours into the region to stop them, there always seem to be novel attempts to elude detection. The two Nogaleses are where drug trafficking has literally gone underground. “We are in the lead in the tunnel business,” said Chief Jeffrey Kirkham of the Nogales Police Department. Burrowing from one country to the other happens elsewhere along the border, particularly around Tijuana.