Mexico is unfilled border tunnels are a security risk, U.S. officials say

Dec. 12, 2016: This image from a video shows one of the two tunnels in an area of warehouses in the border city of Tijuana, which lead to California.

(Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office via AP, File)

SAN DIEGO – Mexico’s inability to completely seal the border tunnels dug by drug smugglers is a danger to the safety and is an “invitation” for cartels to carve out new tunnels, according to officials in the United States.

On the AMERICAN side, drug tunnels are filled with concrete since 2007, after the Los Angeles Times reported that they were left unfilled due to budgetary constraints within Customs and Border Protection.

The mexican authorities say they do not have the money to the complete filling of the tunnels, some of which are equipped with ventilation and rail systems to knock contraband hundreds of metres below the rim. Only the tunnel openings are closed south of the border.

Which allows traders simply digging a new entrance to the largely intact subterranean corridors to the US.

A smugglers’ tunnel that had closed, but on the left not on the Mexican side was found to be back in operation in December, the Times reported Sunday. Traders have again tried to activate at least four other tunnels in the past few years, most recently in the last month near the Tijuana airport.

“The biggest threat is that it’s a big open invitation for drug traffickers, and it definitely be taken advantage of,” said Michael Unzueta, a former special agent in the costs of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego.

Since 2007, it took Customs and Border Protection of $8.7 million to replenish drug tunnels, according to a 2016 report of the Department of Homeland Security.

An estimated 20 large tunnels, built before and after 2007 are largely intact on the Mexican side, officials told the newspaper.

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