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Inside look at how Border Patrol agents find tunnels

Border Patrol
Posted at 6:53 AM, Dec 20, 2019

TUCSON, Ariz. -- There are many components that go into securing our border. Agents say manpower—having agents on the ground, infrastructure—having physical barriers, and technology—having cameras and other tracking means, are crucial components to making tunnel discoveries and arrests.

Border Patrol Agent Joe Curran told KGUN9 they are constantly on the lookout.

“We get people that try and cross every single day,” he said.

The Tucson sector is responsible for securing 262 miles of the Arizona/Mexico border.

from the Arizona/New Mexico state line to the Pima/Yuma County line.

“What we’re seeing where people have crossed here, and you can see hand prints, footprints, scuff marks,” added Curran.

However, they are not the only ones out on patrol.

“Just over on the Mexican side, we’re being watched. They’re upon the hills and they’re monitoring border patrol movement,” he said.

Curran added that Mexico’s higher terrain helps scouts guide people into the United Sates. “That’s an advantage to the cartel because they can see what we are doing and where we are going,” Currant told KGUN9.

Though border patrol agents say technology and physical barriers do play a role in leading to active arrests, they say criminal minds are always at work actively trying to find creative ways to smuggle both people and narcotics across the border.

“Nogales is the tunnel capital of the southern border. Since 1990, we found 125 tunnels in Tucson Sector, over 100 of them being right here in Nogales, said Curran.

HE adds legitimate tunnels exist in Nogales to help with runoff, flowing into the United States from Mexico.

“Criminal organizations dig into these legitimate tunnels and then dig out of them in areas they feel are advantageous to smuggle inside the United States,” he added.

The agent said they are able to find these tunnels thanks in part to their partnership with the Mexican government.

“It’s a proactive approach where we’re actively trying to find these tunnels before they can be utilized for any nefarious purpose,” Curran told KGUN9.

So far, three tunnels have been discovered in December. Unlike the first two, the most recent one had a sophisticated ventilation system and was reinforced with several 2x4s and beams. All in all, though agents say finding tunnels is a victory for them and ICE, at the end of the day...

“They’re run by criminal enterprises and that’s something we’re trying to rid our streets of,” said Curran.

When tunnels are found they are immediately secured until they are fully remediated.