ICE Finds Another Border Tunnel, But Well After Construction Ended

By David North on November 17, 2011

Once again the ICE press operation is ballyhooing an event that might better be regarded as a failure of our border control authorities.

In its press release of yesterday ICE tells the world, happily, that it found another tunnel, this one 400-yards long, near the port of entry on the Otay Mesa south of San Diego.

This was no small scale operation; it was, according to the release: "equipped with structural supports, electricity and ventilation." Unlike an earlier one found nearby, this one does not have a small railway truck running through it, as we reported in a blog last year.

Federal agents spotted a truck pulling away from a warehouse near the port of entry, and had the California Highway Patrol stop it on its way north. There were two men inside the truck, and three tons of marijuana; the contraband apparently had been hauled through the tunnel.

Based on that seizure, agents got a warrant to raid the warehouse; then they found the entrance to the tunnel and six and a half more tons of marijuana.

No one knows how many more shipments of drugs, and maybe illegal aliens, flowed through the tunnel and the warehouse before the operation was closed.

What troubles me about this news is the fact that this huge operation was going on in one of the two rather small areas where such tunnels have been found repeatedly – the other is at Nogales, Ariz., where the Mexican and the American towns are literally cheek-by-jowl – and that at least ten tons of marijuana had entered the U.S. before our people noticed it.

A ton of marijuana, I am told, takes up a lot more space than, say, a ton of gold.

And all of this was very near, almost under the feet of, a major DHS facility, the port of entry on the Otay Mesa (a facility I visited several times years ago).

It's not like an aircraft carrier being smuggled into a port, but it is close.

While digging a tunnel is, by definition, something that takes place out of sight, it should not be a secret to a well-staffed, well-equipped law enforcement agency.

Doesn't the Border Patrol have informants on the other side of the border who might notice truckloads of soil and rock being removed nightly from a location some 200 yards or so south of our own border?

Building a tunnel, even by hand, must produce some subterranean noise that could be picked up by electronic equipment.

Once the tunnel has reached the U.S. border it becomes – just sitting there – an underground disturbance that presumably could be detected from an aboveground detector of some kind on our side of the line. Archeologists, after all, looking at grave sites, use such equipment to detect whether soil beneath the ground level has been disturbed by human activity.

Further, the Israelis are coping with tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt Border where neither end of the tunnel is on land they control. Has the Border Patrol sent someone to that site to see what can be learned about tunnel-detection? The Israelis are good at that sort of thing.

Finally, will the U.S. government seize the property used as the U.S. end of the tunnel as a crime scene, and tear down the warehouse so that this does not happen again, in exactly the same spot?

On the other hand, better late than never.