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New cross-border smuggling tunnel found in Nogales, first of 2020

Border Patrol agents and Mexico's Federal Police discovered a new tunnel—the first found in 2020—running under the streets of Nogales Tuesday, authorities said. 

The  hand-dug tunnel was about 30 feet long, and like tunnels found last year, it connected to the Grand Avenue drainage system, a complex concrete drainage system that runs beneath Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Sonora, serving both cities. 

Tucson Sector Border Patrol officials have discovered 126 tunnels in Southern Arizona since 1990, most of them in the Nogales area, said Rob Daniels, a spokesman with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

The latest tunnel's entrance poked through the concrete floor of the drainage system about 580 yard west of the Dennis DeConcini port of entry, Daniels said 

The "rudimentary" tunnel lacked shoring, ventilation or lighting, and ran around 15 to 20 feet beneath the streets of Nogales, but was left uncompleted, he said. 

"U.S. Border Patrol regularly works with the government of Mexico, and binational cooperation with Mexican law enforcement plays a vital role in border security," said Daniels. "Efforts such as tunnel sweeps aim to disrupt smuggling organizations and prevent the smuggling of narcotics and humans across the border." 

Since December 2019, Border Patrol agents conducting bi-national sweeps have discovered five tunnels in a two-mile area of Nogales, running beneath the city's streets and the 18-foot-high "bollard" walls that remain topped with razor wire installed by National Guard troops. 

This includes an incomplete 17-foot long tunnel found last May about 75 yards west of the Dennis DeConcini border crossing in downtown Nogales, as well as an incomplete 29-foot long tunnel found in October. 

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U.S. authorities will continuously monitor the area until they "remediate" the tunnel, Daniels said. 

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A Border Patrol agent's boot at the entrance to a 'rudimentary' tunnel found in Nogales on Tuesday. Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents have found 126 tunnels since 1990, many of them beneath Nogales, Ariz.