Smuggling tunnel discovered during routine border inspection

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Federalauthorities have shut down the sixth cross-border smuggling tunnel inthe Nogales area for fiscal year 2013.

Immigrationand Customs Enforcement officials say the tunnel was discovered Tuesday underGrand Avenue during a routine, bi-national storm drain system inspection.

Upon furtherinvestigation by U.S. and Mexican authorities, a concrete access panel was discoveredto be embedded in the storm drain floor. Underneath was an illicit tunnel whichheld tools, a core drill and forced air ventilation, officials say.

Investigatorsestimate the tunnel to be around 160 feet long, with 153 feet being in theUnited States and the remaining seven in Mexico. It is also two feet wide andthree feet tall.

The tunnel, whichwas assumed to be in the final stages of construction, would have exited on theU.S. side in a public parking lot near the Dennis DeConcini port of entry.

Investigatorsalso found two exposed fiber optic lines, a storm drain pipe and a water linein the tunnel passageway.

Officialssay no people or drugs were found inside and no arrests have been made in theongoing investigation, conducted by the Nogales Tunnel Task Force and U.S.Border Patrol, in partnership with Mexican federal police.

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