Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents working with federal officials in Mexico announced the discovery of a cross-border tunnel about 100 yards from the U.S. Port of Entry at San Luis, Ariz., on Monday.
While working a football field’s length from the San Luis I port of entry, contractors dug up what appeared to be plywood and boards and identified it as a possible tunnel. Yuma Sector Border Patrol spokesperson Jose Garibay said that when diggers came to see what it was, they found that it was infrastructure for an underground tunnel buried 8 to 12 feet below the surface.
Border Patrol agents coordinated with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Mexican military officials to respond to the situation. Mexican military officials found the other side of the tunnel 10 to 12 feet south of where contractors had dug up the shoring of the tunnel. That entrance was adjacent to the wall and likewise yards from the San Luis I port of entry.
Yuma Sector has found a total of six cross-border tunnels in the area, including this one. The most recent was a 300-foot long tunnel in August 2018 that was used exclusively for smuggling large amounts of drugs. Garibay said that the size and lack of sophistication of this tunnel indicate that the tunnel was likely meant for people to cross as opposed to drugs.
Further excavation revealed that the latest tunnel was incomplete. Mexican officials also found a 6- to 8-foot ladder that was burrowed into the ground in the bottom of the sinkhole.
Garibay said that officials considered the tunnel to be too makeshift and simple for organized crime to be directly involved.
However, Garibay said that tunnels aren’t built in that area without local organized crime leaders like plaza bosses knowing about it and cartels likely received a cut of profits from the activity the tunnel was meant for.
Mexican officials have since blocked off the entrance to the tunnel and the mouth of the sinkhole with razor wire. Officials on both sides are monitoring the tunnel and investigations are underway.