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The Amazing Engineering Feats That Help Drug Smugglers

Mexican drug tunnels are impressive and terrifying.

Crime By

Mexican drug tunnels are ingenious feats of criminal engineering. They emerged in the 1990s and have been a consistent way drug cartels have gotten their drugs across (or under) borders and into America. The man-size wormholes are both marvelous and terrifying, writes Timelineand more than 200 narcotúnels have been discovered since the early ’90s. The longest tunnels can stretch for half a mile and are rigged with lighting, rail tracks and ventilation. Images of the tunnels serve many purposes: the biggest being that for a long time, no one except law enforcement knew about the tunnels. The pictures are also a reminder that criminals are boring themselves north through rocks and dirt in order to fuel America’s appetite for drugs.

In this March 6, 2017, photo, a member of the Border Patrol’s Border Tunnel Entry Team walks in a tunnel spanning the border between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, in San Diego. They are known in the Border Patrol as “tunnel rats” – agents who go in clandestine passages that have proliferated on the U.S.-Mexico border over the last 20 years to smuggle drugs. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
This frame grab taken from a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, video provided by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, or PGR, shows one of two tunnels found in an area of warehouses in the border city of Tijuana that lead into California. Prosecutors said Monday that one of the tunnels led into San Diego, California, and the other was unfinished. The Attorney General’s Office said the tunnels were apparently used by the Sinaloa drug cartel to move drugs into the United States. (Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office via AP)
In this March 6, 2017, photo, a member of the Border Patrol’s Border Tunnel Entry Team ascends an entrance carved out by the Border Patrol leading to a tunnel spanning the border between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, in San Diego. They are known in the Border Patrol as “tunnel rats” – agents who go in clandestine passages that have proliferated on the U.S.-Mexico border over the last 20 years to smuggle drugs. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
This Oct. 24, 2016, file photo released by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office shows a tunnel that authorities say starts in Tijuana, Mexico, and leads to the United States border. U.S. officials say Mexico’s failure to fully seal up border tunnels dug by drug smugglers poses a security risk and is an “open invitation” for Mexican cartels to dig new tunnels. On the U.S. side, drug tunnels have been filled with concrete since 2007, after the Los Angeles Times reported that they were being left unfilled because of budget constraints at Customs and Border Protection. Mexican authorities say they lack the funds to fill the tunnels completely on their side. (Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office via AP, File)
This Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, photo released by Mexico’s Federal Police shows an underground tunnel that police say was built to smuggle drugs from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego in the United States. Mexican federal police said the tunnel extends about 2,600 feet (800 meters) and is lit, ventilated, equipped with a rail car system, and lined with metal beams to prevent collapse. (Mexico Federal Police via AP)
A Mexican soldier stands guard next to marijuana packages outside a tunnel discovered at a warehouse in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, near the border with the US on November 26, 2010. At least eight people were arrested, including three in the US, in the joint action against the sophisticated nearly 0.7-kilometer long tunnel between the Mexican border city of Tijuana and San Diego on the US side of the border. AFP PHOTO/Francisco Vega (FRANCISCO VEGA/AFP/Getty Images)
The entrance to a drug-dealing tunnel is discovered in a home in Tecate, northwest of Mexico, 04 December 2007. A police commander of the bordering Tecate municipality, Juan Jose Soriano Perez, was murdered Tuesday a few hours after the find of a drug-dealing tunnel that goes from Mexican territory into the United States. (SAID BETANZOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A Police agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stands guard in a drug tunnel found along the Mexico/USA Border at a warehouse January 30, 2006, in Otay Mesa, California. The tunnel runs 2,400 feet; is furnished with lighting, ventilation and equipment to pump out groundwater and was used to funnel drugs into the United States from Mexico. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
Mexican Federal Agent checks the interior of a tunnel discovered February 28, 2002, that was used to transport drugs between Mexico and California. The tunnel, approximately 1,000 feet long and four feet wide by four feet high, connects a private home in the mountains east of San Diego to a house in the Mexican border town of Tecate. It may have also been used to smuggle illegal immigrants. (Siete Dias/Getty Images)
View of a trans-border tunnel and wagons found near the airport of Tijuana, Baja California State, in the Mexican border with San Diego in the US, on November 30, 2011. Mexican authorities have unearthed a 600-meter (1,800-foot) drug smuggling tunnel beneath the US border, the second such find in the same area this month. (FRANCISCO VEGA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Homeland Security Special Agent, who chose to remain unidentified, prepares to go into a drug tunnel found by agents at a warehouse near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, November 4, 2010. Authorities confiscated over 30 tons of Marijuana in the tunnel, which connected to a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, and is one of the largest pot seizures in United States history. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
A Homeland Security Special Agent, who chose to remain unidentified, crawls through a drug tunnel found by agents at a warehouse near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, November 4, 2010. Authorities confiscated over 30 tons of Marijuana in the tunnel, which connected to a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, and is one of the largest pot seizures in United States history. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
This July 12, 2012 file photo shows the entrance to a cross-border illegal tunnel lit by a lamp after it was found underneath a bathroom sink by the Mexican army inside a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico. More than 75 such underground passages have been found along the border since 2008, concentrated largely in California and Arizona. The job of searching these networks can be dangerous, so the U.S. Border Patrol is unveiling its latest technology in the underground war, a wireless, camera-equipped robot that can do the job in a fraction of the time. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cossio)
A light bulb attached to an electrical wire with a string of other bulbs runs the length of a hidden tunnel, presumably used to transport drugs from Mexico to the U.S., on Thursday, July 8, 2004 in Tijuana, Mexico. The tunnel, which starts in an abandoned house in Tijuana, crosses under the U.S. border wall. (AP Photo/David Maung)
A Mexican drug agent works his way into a 1,452-foot-long tunnel discovered near the Otay Mesa Border Crossing in Tijuana, Mexico, June 2, 1993. The tunnel extended into the U.S. (AP Photo/Manuel Cordero)
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