Sophisticated drug tunnels are still major threat to Mexican-American security and relations and they could render the recently-confirmed border wall pretty much useless.
- Trump follows through on campaign pledges by signing an executive order to build border wall with Mexico.
- US whistle-blowers hit out at the unfilled tunnels allowing Mexican and American gangs to smuggle guns, drugs and people with impunity.
- Mexican authorities already lack the money to completely fill tunnels complete with ventilation and rail systems under the border.
Donald Trump has made his first move in his drive to clamp down on immigration as the 45th president of the United States and build the promised wall on Americas border with Mexico.
“We are going to restore the rule of law in the United States,” Trump told an an applauding crowd and said construction would commence “as soon as we can physically do it. I would say in months.”
His directives call for an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 immigration officials to step up a clampdown on immigration unseen since the second World War.
But emerging evidence of the unsecured border tunnels between Mexico and the US, some of which are not even filled due to a lack of funds, could prove a major flaw in Trump’s make-or-break election promise.
“Open Invitation” South of the Border.
Since 2001, US law enforcement has discovered more than 100 tunnels along the border with Mexico and several whistle-blowing immigration authorities have revealed that many of those remain unfilled and accessible to gangs.
US authorities have hit out at Mexico’s failure to secure these valuable smuggling routes.
“The biggest threat is that it’s a huge open invitation for drug traffickers, and it’s definitely going to be taken advantage of” warned Michael Unzueta, former special agent for Immigration and Customs.
U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials admitted that at least six previously discovered border tunnels have been reactivated by Mexican trafficking groups, casting light on an endemic large-scale smuggling threat that occurs because Mexican authorities do not fill the tunnels with concrete after they have been discovered. Mexico say they lack the funds.
Inside the Tunnels
The longest ever drug trafficking tunnel under the border was uncovered in 2016. The tunnel between California and Mexico stretched for half a mile and included electric lights, rail and ventilation systems and accessed by an elevator hidden in a wardrobe.
One ton of cocaine and seven tons of marijuana were seized and six people were arrested.
Powerful and wealthy drug cartels fund sophisticated technology and hire talented engineers to construct tunnels complete with lighting and supported by heavy wooden beams, many of which have concrete floors in some sections, ventilation, electricity and a water drainage system and can run for 2,400 feet under the ground.
The smuggling routes have become an incredibly valuable as a source of trafficking income for violent gangs and with their value set to skyrocket following a successful border fence, this is worrying news for Donald Trump.
Border Fencing Goes Up, Traffickers Go Underground
Donald Trump made border security a central feature of his campaign and will be concerned by the failures to secure these smuggling routes that threaten to unravel any effect of a border fence.
Experts have pointed to advances in tunnel tracking technology in recent years, however most point out that most tunnels are still uncovered through human intelligence and that there is still no easy way to detect the tunnels below ground.
It is projected that most of the border above-ground will be monitored by sensor-equipped towers by 2019 in attempt to deter efforts to dig into the US.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons