U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized more than 2,100 pounds of marijuana and identified a cross-border smuggling tunnel Monday in Nogales, Ariz.
According to ICE, agents doing surveillance in Nogales identified a white Ford panel van that appeared to be riding low tot he ground. They later saw a round bundle fall out of the van as it pulled out of a parking lot. Agents stopped the van and found more than a ton of marijuana inside, which was packaged in ways that resembled marijuana seized from tunnel operations used to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the US>
“Whenever we identify bundles that appear to have come through a tunnel, it’s all hands on deck until we can identify the source,” said Kevin Kelly, assistant special agent in charge for Nogales. “In this case, we called in the Border Patrol and the Nogales Police Department and we were able to find the illicit tunnel east of the Morley Pedestrian Port of Entry.”
Agents later found a 13-foot tunnel in Nogales that extended from the Mexican International Border Fence right through a street surface. The tunnel was 10-inches in diameter and used only to move the drugs, not people.
Mexican authorities secured the tunnel on their end. Local officials in Nogales put a steel plate over the tunnel as federal agents collapsed it.
The van’s driver fled and was not arrested. A passenger was arrested and faces federal charges of possession of drugs with intent to distribute.
The passenger was in this country illegally and has been deported in the past.