An isolated ranch house 20 miles east of the Mexican border town of Tecate had a fireplace. “Welcome to the United States” was not hung above it, but those who went into the fireplace reached a secret tunnel and could get into the USA after a 270-meter journey. The tunnel built by drug dealers for the journey to the USA even had rails to send cocaine on electric carts to America. The tunnel led to the back of a staircase of a house in Tierra del Sol, California. Associated Press reports that the tunnel has functioned undetected for ten years; it was just recently discovered. The USA believes that the Arellano Felix gang, based in Tijuana, 65 miles west of Tecate, moved up to 10 tons of drugs into the United States, the majoirty of which of it was transported through the fireplace tunnel. Using hydraulic machines, the smugglers persistently moved to the north, having burrowed six meters under the border wall. Then, 70 trucks were brought to remove the dirt. The smugglers installed electricity and ventilation, and the dirt walls and roof were reinforced with wooden beams. The construction of the tunnel was completed without any fanfare, and the object was put into operation.
Other tunnels were dug in in haste and consequently were detected rather quickly. The construction of one of the secret tunnels was still under way when it was discovered by the US border patrol. One more tunnel was detected in Arizona in March. The smugglers planned to use it instead of the one earlier discovered. All the secret tunnels discovered by Americans are filled with concrete, and the Mexicans have to dig new ones. Sometimes, tunnels only operate for a very short period before disclosure. For example, the tunnel discovered in December was in operation for only three months. However, this very short period was quite enough to smuggle cocaine and marijuana in the amount of several millions of dollars to the USA.
Sometimes, curious situations occur. In April, one more secret tunnel was discovered in Nogales in Arizona; it led to a parking place not far from the US customs department.
The USA discovered one of the best secret tunnels 12 years ago. The 90-meter long tunnel ran from Aqua Prieta, Mexico to a storehouse in Douglas. It also had rails, and special lifts were installed to raise the floors in the rooms.
Mexicans are fond of Arizona, as many secret tunnels lead to this state. Seven tunnels led to the city of Nogales on the border. The Mexicans made the most of drainage systems for digging tunnels. Homeless children used to live in such drainage channels, and they imposed kind of a tax on smugglers for using the system. Migrants also used the drainage systems for reaching the USA. However, then the U.S. Border Patrol started monitoring the tunnels' openings on the U.S. side.
Within the past ten years, sixteen secret tunnels leading from Mexico to the USA were detected. Americans think that drug dealers used them to reach “the largest world market.” Six tunnels were discovered after the Sept.11 tragedy. Five tunnels were put into operation right after the terrorist attacks. As it is believed in the USA, the tough measures introduced on the borders for the fear of new terrorist acts are efficient: drug dealers had to dig tunnels for their secret transactions.
The Associated Press informs that US officials suppose that terrorists will not be able to use the secret tunnels to get into the USA, as not only secret services but even smugglers themselves would not let them in the tunnels. Drug dealers prefer their secret tunnels to be used with peaceful purposes only, as this underground ways to the USA are really very profitable for smugglers.
No doubt that more tunnels from Mexico to the USA will be constructed as well. The AP reported the words of a Mexican policeman guarding the detected fireplace who said: “I heard, America is a good country indeed. I would like to get there, though, they say it is not easy.”
Sergey Borisov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/18/41308.html
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