Federal agents unearthed a sophisticated, 90-foot long, active drug smuggling tunnel in Nogales this week.
Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations made the discovery on Tuesday, according to an agency news release. Agents doing surveillance in downtown Nogales spotted the occupants of a white box truck parked near the Morley Pedestrian Gate acting suspiciously, prompting them to follow the truck.
With help from Nogales police, they stopped the truck and found 2,621 pounds of marijuana inside. In the subsequent investigation, agents learned that the marijuana had been smuggled through a tunnel that came out where the truck was parked.
The Border Patrol helped locate the tunnel, which is 90-feet long with approximately half in Mexico and half in the U.S. It measures 3-feet tall by 3-feet wide and has two-by-fours and plywood as shoring, the press release says. Agents also found ventilation tubing, tools and electrical cord within the tunnel.
It is 4.5 feet below street level. The street exit in the U.S. was cut with a bore-type saw and is 10 inches in diameter. It was plugged with a cylinder-shaped piece of concrete kept in place by a large floor jack, the news release says.
Agents arrested three men who were in the truck on federal charges: Anthony Maytorena, 19, a U.S. citizen from Nogales, Sonora; Jorge Vargas Ruiz, 18, of Nogales, Ariz.; and a minor Mexican citizen whose name was not released.
Tunnels are common in Nogales - nearly 60 tunnels have been found in the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector since 2008, most in Nogales.