The US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has claimed to have found the most technologically advanced border tunnel in American history, an underground smuggling route that stretched from Mexico into Arizona.
Measuring at about 3 feet across and 4 feet tall, the tunnel was equipped with an elaborate ventilation system, electrical and water lines – as well as a small railway. Discovered near Yuma, Arizona, the 1,300-foot long passageway also featured “extensive reinforcement and shoring,” the agency said in a press release, sharing several photos of the installation.
“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in US history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” said Carl Landrum, acting chief patrol agent for ICE’s Yuma Sector.
Special agents with ICE #HSI discovered an unfinished cross-border tunnel Tuesday after several days excavating the sandy Sonoran desert terrain outside of Yuma, Arizona. The discovery is a result of an ongoing HSI-led multi-agency investigation. https://t.co/dqJ7n2s6KH pic.twitter.com/Mz48ow9Bsq
— ICE (@ICEgov) August 7, 2020
While the underground shaft was discovered prior to completion and did not reach the surface on the US side of the border, ICE says it has dismantled the passage, which it believes was built for “smuggling purposes.”
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Officers say they were tipped off to the massive structure after detecting a sinkhole near the border fence, where an “ongoing tunnel investigation” was already underway. After drilling near the sinkhole site, “pieces of wood and water hoses” as well as a “void” were found under the sand. A special camera was then fed into the 25-foot deep hole, revealing the sophisticated subterranean burrow.
Some mystery remains as to how the feat was accomplished, or who was behind the project. Angel Ortiz, the assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Yuma, said if the tunnel were built by hand, it would have taken many months for it to get as far as it did, though with heavy machinery it could have been done in “potentially a few months, not that long of a period.”
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