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Incomplete cross-border smuggling tunnel found in Nogales by Border Patrol, Mexican police

Border Patrol agents and Mexico's Federal Police discovered a not-yet-completed cross-border tunnel running under the streets of Nogales on Thursday, authorities said. 

The 29-foot-long tunnel was found during a routine bi-national sweep of the drainage system that runs beneath Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora and serves both cities.

The entrance to the tunnel punched through the concrete floor of the water-drainage system, and officials found a cement cutout designed the plug the hole. That cutout was covered by several sheets of plywood hidden beneath a pile of dirt, said a spokesman with the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector. 

The tunnel was about 10 feet below the street, and was approximately three feet wide and five feet tall at the entrance, and officials found construction tools and electrical wiring inside the tunnel, he said. 

When a tunnel is discovered, officials in the U.S. and Mexico will monitor and inspect the tunnel until it's secured and remediated, which usually involves sealing the tunnel with concrete. 

"Tucson Sector Border Patrol works closely with strategic partners in Mexico to detect tunnels under construction to prevent the movement of illegal contraband, currency, weapons, and persons across the border," the agent said. 

In less than a year, officials have discovered three tunnels in a two-mile area of Nogales, including Thursday's discovery, running beneath the city's streets and the 18-foot-high "bollard" walls that remain topped with concertina, or "razor wire" installed by National Guard troops in November. 

In May, a similar sweep discovered an incomplete tunnel about 75 yards west of the Dennis DeConcini border crossing in downtown Nogales. Like this most recent tunnel, the tunnel found in May did not open into the U.S., but rested more than a dozen feet below a parking lot in Nogales, Ariz. That tunnel was about 17 feet long, and extended about 12 feet into the U.S.

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And, last December, Border Patrol agents conducting a similar sweep found an incomplete 50-foot tunnel that extended about 44 feet into the United States just beneath the port's parking lot. 

Also, a traffic lane at the DeConcini port was closed in March after a remediated tunnel collapsed, causing a minor disruption to traffic at the port. 

Tucson Sector Border Patrol officials have discovered 123 tunnels in the sector since 1990, most of them in the Nogales area. 

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The entrance to a cross-border tunnel found in Nogales, Ariz. on Thursday.