cannabisnews.com: Drug Runners' Tunnels Test the Agents in a Border 





Drug Runners' Tunnels Test the Agents in a Border 
Posted by FoM on February 28, 2001 at 22:08:26 PT
By Michael Janofsky
Source: New York Times
The authorities in this border town today discovered a cache of illegal drugs inside yet another hand-dug tunnel connected to a sewer line that smugglers had used to get drugs out of Mexico and into the United States.About 350 pounds of marijuana was pulled out of a hole in the concrete floor of a commercial garage less than a mile from the Mexican border. It was a modest discovery by any measure, worth only $300,000 or so on the street, said James A. Woolley, assistant special agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration's offices in Tucson.
But this was the second such tunnel found here in three days  and the seventh in the last six years  evidence that smugglers were still using the hilly landscape of Nogales to their advantage. In each case, the tunnel was connected to a city sewer line that was connected in turn to underground culverts that carry water and debris from Mexico into southern Arizona.Typically, smugglers walk or crawl the drugs through the culverts and the sewer lines before leaving the contraband for someone else to fish out from the floor of the hand- dug tunnels here and load onto vehicles for transport northward.Ingenious? Not especially, said Kyle E. Barnette, associate special agent in charge of the Customs Service office in Tucson, whose agents scored big on Monday, intercepting 840 pounds of cocaine at a house to which one 25-foot tunnel led not far from the garage. He said agents believed the cocaine to be 95 percent pure, with a street value well above $6 million. "If you can imagine it, the smugglers can, too," Agent Barnette said of the various means of drug transport that border agents have encountered over the years. "And just because we catch them doesn't mean they won't try again."Agent Barnette said some of the tunnel discoveries had led to arrests. But the drug business has become so sophisticated, he said, that most people involved in it perform only one task, like dropping the drugs at the mouth of a culvert, moving them through or pulling them out of the tunnel for delivery to a driver."It has become a very specialized operation," said Matthew C. Allen, group supervisor for the Nogales office of the Customs Service. "There's the grower, the marketer, the transporter, and that creates an insulating factor. Most of these people involved don't know each other."For that reason, he said, American and Mexican authorities often cannot easily identify others involved in the trafficking through arrest of someone who might have dug the tunnel.In both cases this week, the authorities said, there have been no arrests, and the property owners are still being sought.Nogales has always been a busy spot for drug running, as well as the smuggling of illegal immigrants, on the Mexican border. Michael Unzueta, the Customs Service's deputy executive director, Operations West, said the town generally ranked among the most active places for drug smuggling and interdiction, along with San Ysidro, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., and El Paso. Already this year, the Customs Service has recorded 50 arrests, 30 indictments and 18 convictions related to drugs in the Nogales area. The tallies are slightly behind those for the corresponding period last year, but numbers alone rarely measure effectiveness, Agent Barnette said, adding: "Imagine squeezing a water balloon. You increase pressure one place, the water goes somewhere else. Same with smugglers."The lure of Nogales, a high-desert town of about 22,000 across from a Mexican city of the same name with nearly 20 times the population, has been the rugged terrain. Well below the single-family homes that dot the hills on both sides of the border, underground culverts connect the two countries and open several miles inside Arizona, providing smugglers a cozy means of conveyance. By cutting through the sewer lines to which the culverts connect, the smugglers gain access to drop points at the end of the hand-dug tunnels.Most of the tunnels, elbowing from horizontal to vertical, have been dug through concrete on the floors of houses, although in 1999 investigators found one connected to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, a majestic old building on a bluff about a half-mile from the border.The commercial garage where the latest tunnel discovery was made today sits across from a busy shopping center and offices of the state's Economic Security Department. Pointing to it, Agent Woolley said: "The novelty of this is that it's an operational business. Nobody would have thought anything of it."As investigators pulled bundles of marijuana out of the tunnel and gathered other evidence, Agent Woolley turned to Mr. Unzueta, the Customs Service official, who was visiting the area from Washington. "It's been a good week for Nogales," Agent Woolley said. "We ain't winning, but at least we're making dents."Source: New York Times (NY) Author: Michael JanofskyPublished: March 1, 2001 Copyright: 2001 The New York Times Company Address: 229 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036 Fax: (212) 556-3622 Contact: letters nytimes.com Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Forum: http://forums.nytimes.com/comment/ Related Articles:Drug Agents Find New Tunnel - in Usehttp://cannabisnews.com/news/6/thread6244.shtmlNew Tunnel Found in Nogales, 3 Heldhttp://cannabisnews.com/news/5/thread5779.shtml
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Comment #4 posted by NiftySplifty on March 01, 2001 at 17:44:07 PT
The stupid things Antis do...
The tunnel in question was confiscated under asset forfeiture laws, and dug up and shipped to Little Compton, Rhode Island where officers park their 23-foot boat in it along with their new Pontiac Firebirds.Sure, I'm being facetious, but I wouldn't be surprised if they at least started to track how much dirt is removed from each house in the nation to thwart tunnel-diggers.Nifty...
Asset Forfeiture: Looting America
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Comment #3 posted by Lehder on March 01, 2001 at 07:09:25 PT
amateur psychology
I totally agree with your remarks about the psychological imbalance of the antis, kaptinemo. Deaf to a logical argument and analogy for years, with a straight face they now use the same argument verbatim in support of their own position. Truly, they are unbalanced. They are beyond reason. We have to take their guns away from them; we cannot teach them, but must render them impotent and harmless.I wish I were a better psychologist. Obsessive/compulsive disorder is certainly a part of their problem. Would an accurate diagnosis offer us any weapon against the antis? I once read how the American government made a psychiatric assessment of Adolf Hitler in absentia at the outset or somewhat prior to the war. How helpful this profile proved during the hostilities I do not know, but it did correctly predict that the dictator would commit suicide rather than face defeat.Someone a week or so ago suggested that ridicule would be an appropriate weapon against the antis. Maybe. I believe reason and logic would be the best weapons - but only if arguments of such unconvential nature were permitted on TV.I've heard that nations and societies as a whole can be evaluated psychologically, based on their behavior, beliefs and statements, exactly as individuals can. It might be an interesting exercise to leaf through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual with the antis in mind.More than one amateur psychologist has told me the following: If you really dislike someone, then write down all the reasons and characteristics that make you feel so negative toward that person. Then at the bottom of the page, sign your name. Because you have just described yourself. I've no sound opinion of this amateur psycho trick, but I'm thinking of how the antis like to describe smokers: unproductive, crazed, useless, immoral.I agree with you here, too: This is not an intellectual exercise for me and for all those, past, present and future, who have either suffered or struggled to alleviate that suffering. This is, at the risk of seeming melodramatic, truly a battle between good and evilI believe our fight will decide the advance or the dark stagnation of civilization, human creativity and culture. I take it most seriously, and I know that it has nothing to do with drugs. The silent turning of the Bush-Ashcroft repressive screw coupled with the introduction by the antis of the thermal, gamma ray, and molecular sensors gives me pause. The ever-hardening anti asses cannot themselves be taught; but if the truth could be told and shown on television - if, for example, Ralph Nader could have participated in the debates - then the antis' blind followers would soon be jumping the anti ship. But we've no access. I wish I shared your optimism; I think the battle undecided.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on March 01, 2001 at 04:56:06 PT:
Even the narks admit it.
'The tallies are slightly behind those for the corresponding period last year, but numbers alone rarely measure effectiveness, Agent Barnette said, adding: "Imagine squeezing a water balloon. You increase pressure one place, the water goes somewhere else. Same with smugglers."'For how many years have we been saying exactly that? How many more years will they have to witness this to make an impression?The more I see of this DrugWar, the more convinced I am that those on the law 'n' order side are not playing with a full deck. If the truth is so manifestly obvious, then why continue the game...aside from the obvious benefit of there being a paycheck involved for those who might otherwise be unemployable? With what admittedly little I know of psychiatry, I might be tempted to call this 'obsessive/compulsive' behavior.
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Comment #1 posted by justhad2 on March 01, 2001 at 04:38:59 PT
Just jokin
Why don't they just shoot it across in a big missile that holds like 2 tons of good seedless brick. we'll send payment back via carrier pigeon lol lololol
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