Authorities in Arizona unearthed a sophisticated 240-yard drug-smuggling tunnel stretching into Mexico that included engineered support beams, lights and ventilation.

The six-foot-high corridor ran from a store in an abandoned strip mall near Yuma to an ice shop across the border in San Luis Rio Colorado. It provided a direct link to the US for Mexican drug cartels.

The Mexican Army also found a second, incomplete, tunnel under a bathroom sink in Tijuana that stretched more than 200 yards into San Diego, California. The diggers had not yet reached the surface when authorities shut it down.

The tunnel shaft in the Arizona ran 55 feet deep and showed a level of engineering uncommon for drug tunnels, authorities say.

Inside the passageway, the  walls were lined with wood and smugglers had installed an actual floor—not just dirt. Federal agents estimate it cost the drug cartel up to $1.5million to build.

‘When you see what is there and the way they designed it, it wasn’t something that your average miner could put together,’ said Douglas Coleman, special agent in charge of the Phoenix division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

‘You would need someone with some engineering expertise to put something together like this.’

The DEA says the brutal Sinaloa cartel likely built the tunnel, which was found on Saturday.

It was discovered after state police pulled over a man who had 39 pounds of methamphetamine in his vehicle and mentioned the strip mall.

The tunnel was found beneath a water tank in a storage room and stretched across the border to an ice-plant business in the Mexican city of San Luis Rio Colorado. It was reinforced with four-by-six beams and lined with plywood.

As US authorities heighten enforcement on land, tunnels have become an increasingly common way to smuggle enormous loads of heroin, marijuana and other drugs into the country. More than 70 passages have been found on the border since October 2008, surpassing the number of discoveries in the previous six years.

A total of 156 secret tunnels have been found along the border since 1990, but the vast majority were incomplete.

Raids last November on two tunnels linking San Diego and Tijuana netted a combined 52 tons of marijuana on both sides of the border. In early December 2009, authorities found an incomplete tunnel that stretched nearly 900 feet into San Diego from Tijuana, equipped with an elevator at the Mexican entrance.

Investigators believe the tunnel wasn’t in operation for long because there was little wear on its floor, and 55-gallon drums containing extracted dirt hadn’t been removed from the property.

Coleman said investigators can’t yet say for sure if the tunnel, estimated to cost $1.5 million to build, was operated by the brutal Sinaloa cartel.

Still, authorities suspect cartel involvement because the group from Sinaloa controls smuggling routes into Arizona.

‘Another cartel wasn’t going to roll into that area and put down that kind of money in Sinaloa territory,’ Agent Coleman said.

‘Nobody is going to construct this tunnel without significant cartel leadership knowing what’s going on.’

The Tijuana tunnel had been under investigation by US authorities for three months, and they found no connections to the smuggling operation involving the Arizona passageway.

It takes six months to a year to build a tunnel, authorities say. Workers use shovels and pickaxes to slowly dig through the soil, sleeping in buildings where the tunnels begin until the job is done. Sometimes they use pneumatic tools.

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  • Just think if they tried to build some infrastructure in Mexico it might not be a 3rdworld nation

    • Rocky Bass,

       Problem is the only money or value there, is American, be it welfare sent home, wages sent home or even drug sale proceeds, there is nothing there. Mexico’s exports are Mexicans and drugs.

  • Erinacin

    They’re the underworld for a reason. But would not a 5’5 high tunnel have sufficed?

  • Xanthippe2

    There is military technology to detect such tunnels.  But naturally it is not being used.  Rather, some not so bright Mexican caught with Meth mentions a certain strip mall…

    • SentryattheGate

      That’s what I wondered—sonar or something to detect open pockets below the surface? Also, another technology, surveillance drones were used by the Minutemen volunteers to spot illegal border crossers, while the US gov’t. said it cost too much! But, now they are willing to spend the money for drones to spy on us!

      • Xanthippe2

        Obviously the goal is the OPPOSITE of stopping
        illegals.  As for drugs, I think some
        people in the government want to stop them. 
        For others it is only a so, so desire or it depends on whose
        drugs one is talking about.  I expect
        this last category to grow and at some point in time America will have as much
        problem with drug cartels (only partially Mexican) as Mexico does.

  • KenelmDigby

    If only Mexicans could put that amount of work into building something to benefit their country.

    • They can but why bother?  America.  If they can find their way to America, Well By God, worry no more for now, it’s the “White Man’s Burden” to steal from Ms. Sheila Dinehart.

      That’s what she calls it, “The White Man’s Burden”.  How right she is and in so many different ways…

  • slobotnavich

    The answer to the “drug problem” in this country is to simply de-criminalize them.  Right now it’s wasting enormous public resources, corrupting cops at all levels, fostering crime be keeping illicit drug prices high, and generally accomplishing nothing positive.

    People seem to forget that virtually all drugs were perfectly legal in this country around the turn of the 20th Century, including all manner of opiates.  People weren’t stumbling around stuporously in the streets back then, and we had economic growth rates during that period far in excess of what we’re experiencing now.

    People might want to remember that Prohibition introduced Organized Crime to this country back in the Twenties.  Currently drugs are the biggest single driver of organized crime.

    • IstvanIN

      1) We could stop the importation of most drugs if we wanted to.

      2) In the 19th century we were a largely white country with a white population that had internal moral restraints on their own bad behavior and had their black population under control.

      Now we have a anything goes white population, a black population that is out of control and devolved and a huge uncivilized hispanic population.  Not a good time for decriminalization.

      • I never thought of it this way.  I live in the past so to speak so all I see is America (white) and Americans (white) being afflicted.

        Also, non-whites on drugs are more apt to do evil and vile things they may never otherwise do.  This is not to defend non-whites, it’s only meant to say, drugs can and have made their viciousness worse.

    •  I’m not arguing the merits of your position, (and I mostly agree with it with some nuances), but things happen for a reason.  There’s a reason these kinds of drugs became illegal, even if we don’t agree with the reason.

      In 2006, the Hitlery Channel took a break from All Adolf All the Time to run a documentary called “Illegal Drugs – How They Got That Way.”  They didn’t say what I’m about to say in our terms, but it’s obvious to anyone watching.

      One of the big drivers of cocaine becoming illegal?

      You guessed it.  B-L-A-C-K.

      Southern blacks got so bad and wild on cocaine highs that Southern politicians elected to the U.S. House and Senate were willing to ignore their states rights position and Federally criminalize cocaine.

    • I just watched “Blow” the other day and watched the short interview afterward and George Jung said, “parental guidance”.  That was his message.  Parents, Take Control.  It’s not the drugs, it’s what you teach them and I must say, I agree.  Don’t take this to mean I don’t consider him to be a Traitor ’cause I do.  He hurt America and Americans and very badly too.  People have always been weak and to offer up easy access to destructive activities is, in my mind, a Treacherous Act.

      And yes, I agree.  Take the Power Away.  If it’s Legal, they have no power and no money.  There’s also the psychological part of it too.  What’s legal ain’t “fun/cool, exciting, lucrative money…”

      Regardless of my soft side about addicts and criminals, I find it inexcusable to bring forth destruction and this is the only thing drugs and drug pushers bring.  I mean to say, Parental Guidance cannot guarantee nor save their own from potential drug use so for me, I stand with trying to stop the drug trade.

      Actually, I’m split.  I sit on the Fence and here I shall remain until I can decide which is better.  COMPLETE Freedom or SOME Freedom.  I lean towards COMPLETE but because People are Naturally Weak, I lean towards Control.