$3M pot bust leads agents to cross-border tunnel in Naco
A multi-million dollar drug bust led federal investigators to a cross-border tunnel Monday night hidden beneath a shed in Naco, Ariz.
Acting on a tip, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Bisbee police stopped a U-haul truck driving along Highway 92 and North Wilson Road, north of Naco, at 6:30 p.m.
Agents arrested the driver after a drug dog with Border Patrol alerted to the rear of the truck, where officers found more than 4,700 pounds of marijuana worth around $3 million "bundled and stacked," according to a release from Customs and Border Protection.
HSI agents followed up on the truck's route and got a warrant to search a house in Naco, where shortly before dawn Tuesday they found the entrance to an underground tunnel hidden beneath a shed at the edge of the property.
Border Patrol agents with special training to search tunnels came to the scene, but concerns about air quality kept agents from fully investigating the tunnel's reach, the release said.
Investigators said that the tunnel was highly sophisticated for a border tunnel, shored-up by wooden supports and accessible by a cement shaft complete with a hydraulic lift. The underground corridor is large enough for an adult to stand upright, the release said.
Mexican authorities are looking for the tunnel's opening in Mexico, according to the release.
"With this discovery we’ve dealt another significant blow to the Mexican drug cartels and proven yet again that going underground is not a workaround to evade law enforcement," said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "Last night’s chain of events is also a testament to the outstanding unity of effort by federal and local investigators in Arizona who are committed to combatting this threat."
A second man was arrested at the house and agents seized three weapons, according to the release.
This is one of 102 tunnels found along the U.S.-Mexico border since 1990 after one was discovered in January during a bi-national sweep in Nogales.