Cross-Border Tunnels Since 2008
In its final report on Customs & Border Protection’s strategy to address illicit cross-border tunnels issued Sept. 26, 2012, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security said there has been an 80 percent increase in the “tunnel activity” since 2008.
“Since 1990, law enforcement officials have discovered more than 140 tunnels that have breached the US border, with an 80 percent increase in tunnel activity occurring since 2008,” the report stated in its executive summary.
“Illicit cross-border tunnels along the southwest border of the United States represent a significant and growing threat to border security,” the summary stated. “Criminals primarily use the tunnels to transport illegal narcotics into the United States.
The report was done “to determine whether US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has developed an operational strategy to detect and remediate cross-border tunnels, and has acquired tunnel detection technology,” which is “part of its overall border security and law enforcement missions.”
The summary pointed out, however, “the program has not matured to a point where it demonstrates how it will consider the needs of Homeland Security Investigations” with the development and acquisition of tunnel-detecting technology.
In a Sept. 22 story aired on National Public Radio, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the technology on the border was better than ever before. “It is safe to say that there has been more money, manpower, infrastructure, technology, invested in the border-protection mission in the last three years than ever before,” Napolitano said...
The report defined tunnels in three categories -- rudimentary, interconnected and sophisticated. Some 42 percent of detected tunnels are sophisticated, which are described as “elaborately constructed and may use shoring, ventilation, electricity, and rail systems. Such tunnels have stretched more than 2,000 feet. Often the tunnel entrances and exits are located within existing structures, such as in residences or warehouses.”
The report stated that DHS’s mission is to “disrupt and dismantle” operations of smuggling and trafficking across the US border, but concludes that “CBP does not have technology to allow it to detect tunnels routinely and accurately.”
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