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Monday, January 16

Mexican government cries poor to avoid filling known border smuggling tunnels

"A cross-border drug smugglers' tunnel that had been shut down but left unfilled on the Mexican side was found to be back in operation in December, officials said."
  
Photo: Mexico attorney general's office / Associated Press via Los Angeles Times

Border tunnels left unfilled on Mexican side pose security risk, officials say
By Richard Marosi
15 January 2017
The Los Angeles Times

Mexican drug cartels have burrowed dozens of tunnels in the last decade, outfitted them with rail and cart systems to whisk drugs under the U.S. border and, after being discovered by authorities, abandoned them.

But some of the illicit passageways live on.

At least six previously discovered border tunnels have been reactivated by Mexican trafficking groups in recent years, exposing a recurring large-scale smuggling threat, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials.

The breaches of border defenses, most recently in December, occur because Mexican authorities, unlike those on the American side, do not fill the tunnels with concrete once they have been discovered. Mexican authorities say they lack the funds.

Instead, only the tunnel openings are sealed. That allows traffickers to simply dig a new entry point to access the largely intact subterranean passageways leading to the U.S. border.

The security lapse is a boon for traffickers, experts say, saving them time and money and reducing their risk of being caught as they haul away dirt.

“The biggest threat is that it’s a huge open invitation for drug traffickers, and it’s definitely going to be taken advantage of,” said Michael Unzueta, a former special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.

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