Smuggling tunnel found near U.S. border

| Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 6:48 p.m.

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities have discovered a sophisticated smuggling tunnel equipped with electricity and ventilation not far from the Nogales port of entry into Arizona, U.S. and Mexican officials said on Friday.

The Mexican army said the tunnel was found the day before when authorities received an anonymous call in the border city. U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed the existence of the elaborate, football field-long tunnel.

Border Patrol spokesman Victor Brabble said the tunnel did not cross into the United States.

The army said the anonymous caller was reporting gunmen standing outside a two-story house in a hilly neighborhood near the international bridge where motorists travel between Mexico and the United States.

Inside the house, soldiers discovered a fake wall inside a storage closet under a staircase that led to a dark room with buckets and clothes. Under a drain cover in that room, soldiers found another staircase at the entrance of the tunnel that went 16 feet underground and measured a yard in diameter. Light bulbs lit the underground passage and pipes stretched across the 120-yard tunnel that Mexican army officials believe was built to smuggle drugs.

More than 70 such tunnels have been found since October 2008, most of them concentrated along the border in California and Arizona. In Nogales, Arizona, smugglers tap into vast underground drainage canals.

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