Nogales Drug Tunnel: Largest Ever Found Shut Down
Ellisha Rader Mannering
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The longest drug tunnel ever found was discovered in Nogales and shut down on Monday. Three men were arrested during the shutdown and more than 640 pounds of marijuana and a half pound of heroin were seized during the operation.
The tunnel was 481-feet long and ran underground between two homes in Nogales, AZ, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, U.S. 411 feet of the tunnel was within the United States and the other 70 feet had crossed the border into Mexico.
The three men arrested and held responsible for the tunnel and drugs were Jesus Alberto Ramirez-Valencia, 22, of Nogales, Arizona., Jose Solorzano-Flores and Jose Mario Armenta-Valdez, both 41, of Mexico. The men were charged with drug conspiracy and will go to court in Tucson, Arizona on Tuesday, February 18.
A task force was assigned to investigate the drug smuggling after information was received that it was occurring at a private residence. The task force conducted surveillance on the home and followed a vehicle driven by one of the men arrested, to a second residence. Police searched the vehicle and found 24 bales of marijuana weighing 590 pounds. They also searched the residence, where they located the tunnel.
“Through hard work, dedication and close cooperation, the Nogales Tunnel Task Force and our partner agencies shut this tunnel down in its early stages of operation, hitting the traffickers’ bottom line before they could recoup their investment,” said Eric Balliet, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Nogales.
Tunnels in Nogales are common, but this one is by far the largest ever found. Investigators said that this tunnel was also one of the more difficult to explore and investigate and said that it was 4-foot high by 3-foot wide and had lighting and fans inside it. It is not known how long the tunnel was intact before it was found by the authorities or if anyone else is linked to it.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.