Homeland Security Investigations discovers cross-border tunnel in Yuma

Homeland Security Investigations discovers cross-border tunnel in Yuma
Yuma border tunnel found connecting to Mexico. (Source: Department of Homeland Security)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Special agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) discovered an unfinished cross-border tunnel Tuesday after several days excavating the Sonoran Desert terrain outside of Yuma.

The discovery is a result of an ongoing HSI led multi-agency investigation. The US portion of the tunnel reaches from the 1300 block of Los Olivos neighborhood in San Luis stretching past the Mexican border and under the fence extending over 1300 feet to Calle 10 and Ave. Capitan Carlos G. Calles.

Preliminary photographs reveal the man-passable passageway measures three feet wide and four feet high and is equipped with a fully developed ventilation system, water lines, electrical wiring, a rail system, extensive reinforcement and shoring, known to be commonly used in sophisticated subterranean tunnels.

“Homeland Security Investigations and our esteemed law enforcement partners swiftly and effectively worked together to uncover and dismantle a cross-border tunnel for smuggling purposes into the United States,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge HSI in Phoenix. “Despite the international pandemic, HSI and our law enforcement colleagues remains resilient and committed to pursue dangerous criminal trans-border smuggling activities along the southwest border.”

In mid-July, federal agents discovered a sinkhole along the US/Mexico border between the primary and secondary border fences. HSI special agents responded to the area and observed the sinkhole was in line with the area of an ongoing tunnel investigation.

With the assistance of federal partners, on July 27, Yuma Sector Border Patrol conducted drilling near the sinkhole site; shortly thereafter, pieces of wood and water hoses were discovered underground, as well as a void. A specialized camera was deployed 25 feet underground to investigate the gap revealing the cross-border tunnel.

“This appears to be the most sophisticated tunnel in U.S. history, and certainly the most sophisticated I’ve seen in my career,” said Carl E Landrum, acting chief patrol agent, Yuma Sector. “We will continue to work closely with our partners – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and State and local agencies to provide the best National Security possible.”

This is an ongoing HSI led investigation with assistance from Yuma Sector Border Patrol, HSI/BP San Diego Tunnel Task Force, Office of Field Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration Yuma Resident Office, San Luis Police Department, and the Yuma County Page 2 of 2 Sheriff’s Office.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is also supporting this investigation. To report suspicious activity related to this ongoing investigation, please 1-886-DHS-2-ICE, you may remain anonymous.

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