Drug Seizures Lead To A 3rd Nogales Tunnel 

Drug Seizures Lead To A 3rd Nogales Tunnel 
Posted by FoM on October 22, 1999 at 14:03:54 PT
By Tim Steller, The Arizona Daily Star 
Source: Arizona Daily Star 
For the third time this year, law-enforcement officers have found a tunnel used to move drugs from Mexico to Arizona. Officers of the Santa Cruz County Metro Task Force discovered a hand-dug tunnel under a Nogales, Ariz., house last night.
Like a tunnel found in Nogales in January, this one goes from the house into a storm drain that empties into Nogales Wash. The wash, which is covered as it runs from Nogales, Sonora, to Nogales, Ariz., serves as a thoroughfare for drug traffickers. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said officers began suspecting a tunnel at 160 W. Loma St. in February, when they began seizing drugs from people leaving the house. Officers ultimately seized more than 1,000 pounds each of marijuana and cocaine from people as they left the house. The house is only eight blocks from the border, so a tunnel would be the most likely way traffickers deposited their loads, Estrada said. More than 40 agents from 10 local, state and federal agencies served a search warrant at the house about 7:30 p.m. last night. They detained one man who apparently was a caretaker at the house. Officers were questioning the man, a 19-year-old from Nogales, Sonora, last night. Upon entering the house, the officers had some trouble finding the tunnel because the opening had been covered up, Estrada said. But officers did find countless burlap bags inside, apparently used to carry drugs, he said. The opening to the tunnel was in the house's dining room/kitchen area, Estrada said. Agents had not seized a load departing the house recently, Estrada said. ``It seems like they were aware they had lost some major loads and were going to slow down.'' Because the Nogales Wash provides a cross-border tunnel, it's likely other tunnels connecting to the wash exist, Estrada said. The tunnel found last night is four blocks north of two found in January. One 250-foot-long tunnel linked a house to Nogales Wash; a 400-foot-long tunnel connects an apartment next to the house to Sacred Heart Catholic Church. In May, officers found a 200-foot-long tunnel connecting a mobile home in Naco, Ariz., with a house in Naco, Sonora. Thirteen people were indicted in the case on charges they formed a drug transportation network. Friday, 22 October 1999The Arizona Daily Star 
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