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Tunnel discovered underneath the Rio Grande River used to smuggle narcotics

CBP / U.S. Border Patrol Agents in El Paso discovered a crude man-made tunnel underneath the Rio Grande River near the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. CBP Border Patrol agents working near the Bridge of the Americas thwarted a narcotics smuggling attempt after becoming aware of suspicious activity in the city storm drain system. Upon closer investigation, agents discovered a juvenile suspect in possession of more than 200 pounds of marijuana.

“This is another example of smuggling organizations actively recruiting juveniles to smuggle narcotics and humans,” El Paso Sector Chief Randy R. Hill. “These organizations are exploiting the youth of Mexico and putting their lives in danger.”

The Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) is in charge of this investigation. BEST is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE-led initiative that operates along the U.S.-Mexico border charged with enforcing a wide array of immigration and customs laws, including those related to securing the border and combating criminal smuggling. The BEST unit is comprised of several Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies.

CBP Border Patrol and ICE agents working jointly initiated an in-depth investigation of the city storm drainage system and discovered an illicit man-made tunnel underneath the concrete lined Rio Grande River. Federal authorities from Mexico also responded to the scene and assisted with the identification of the exit point of the tunnel in Mexico.

This tunneling attempt illustrates the desperation that narcotic and alien smuggling organizations are resorting to in an attempt to continue their criminal enterprises.

“The discovery of this underground passageway bears witness to the solid collaboration between ICE, its law enforcement partners and the Government of Mexico,” said Manuel Oyola-Torres, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso.