Evidence of an Insecure Border; Tunnels and a Dead American

October 5, 2010 04:29

Pirates killing Americans on a Texas lake and drug tunnels like whack-a moles make a mockery of claims by Obama and Napolitano about border security.

From The Americano

The best evidence that the U.S. – Mexico border is not under control, despite innumerable administration officials saying that the border has never been more secure, came in two stories published over the weekend. One in The New York Times and the other in The Christian Science Monitor.

The NYT  story details the many efforts of the administration to control the border to prevent drug smugglers and undocumented workers from crossing over into the United States where Mexican drug cartels already control the drug trade in more than 100 U.S. cities.

In the other, The Christian Science Monitor reported that U. S. “authorities and outraged Texans are pondering a plan of action to deal with Mexican pirates after a US jet skier was shot (and killed)Thursday and his fleeing wife chased onto the US side of a border lake.”

The New York Times talks about drone aircrafts that patrol the border from the air, fast boats that guard at sea and the tens of thousands of Border Patrol agents who use trucks, horses, all terrain vehicles and bicycles to stop unauthorized crossers. To this one must add the 1,200 members of the National Guard who have been sent to the area to help.

It has not worked, and the evidence is underneath the ground that the American law enforcement officials patrol.  The New York Times writes about the latest route the always innovative smugglers are now using – underground tunnels.

With all other routes closing, digging tunnels from Mexico under the border and into the United States has become the favorite way for smugglers of drugs or immigrants to break into the country.  The center of the dug digging efforts is Nogales, a city built atop the border between the two countries. Part of the city of Nogales, is the state of Arizona, and part of it in the Mexican state of Sonora.

According to the New York Times, “on Thursday, the Border Patrol was filling an underground tunnel that had been discovered right under the immigration checkpoint in Nogales. But even before the concrete was poured to make that tunnel inoperative, another subterranean passageway was discovered a block away.

“The second tunnel, which had been used to bring bales of marijuana from Mexico, will be filled as well,” the story added. “There are patches, in fact, all across this city, where the authorities have tried to tap the tunnels that traffickers build off the extensive underground storm drain system that connects” the American city of Nogales with the Mexican city with the same name.”

All those who say that the border is under control need only travel to Nogales, Arizona to see that despite all efforts the profits of smugglers is so enormous that they are always seeking new ways to bring people and drugs across the border. And at the same time evidence is growing of violence creeping into the United States and affecting American citizens.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor story  detailed “the shooting on Falcon Lake, part of the Rio Grande watershed near Zapata, Texas, (that) follows a months-long surge in attacks by drug-cartel-linked pirates on US boaters who have crossed into Mexican waters. It is the first instance in which an American has been hurt.”

Robert Chesney, a national security and terrorism expert at the University of Texas School of Law, in Austin, told the Christian Science Monitor that “Piracy on Falcon Lake is an incredible story, especially when Somali piracy has been so much in the news,” says “It’s amazing to think that it’s actually happening on the Texas border.”

As in the NYT story, officials quoted by the Christian Science Monitor say “the surge in attacks is a direct outcome of pressures on the cartels, both from law enforcement and competing cartels, that has pushed drug smugglers to diversify to supplement their incomes.

The pirates on the lake are members of the violent Zeta gang, primarily deserters from the ‘federales’ and other Mexican law-enforcement agencies, who used to be the enforcers for the Gulf Coast Cartel before essentially staging a coup and taking over much of the cartel’s drug-running.”

According to Zapata County Sheriff, Sigfredo González, David Michael Hartley, was shot as he and his wife Tiffany Hartley, sped to a nearby lakeside home to ask for help.

Authorities added that the gunmen never spoke to the pirates and by late Friday Hartley’s body had not been found. He had been shot in the back of the head while he and his wife were fleeing the Mexican pirates at Falcón Lake.

American law enforcement personnel in Nogales, Arizona said tunnel burrowing was particularly evident in their area. “We are in the lead in the tunnel business,” said Chief Jeffrey Kirkham of the Nogales Police Department.

“Burrowing from one country to the other happens elsewhere along the border, particularly in the smuggling zone around Tijuana. But officials say most of the tunnels discovered along the entire stretch of the border are from the Mexican Nogales to the American one,” the NYT story said.

It added that the geography of the region that makes tunneling common in Nogales as the Mexican side sits at a slightly higher elevation and water flows north through generations-old underground channels.

“Through the downtowns of both cities, the drainage flows through a tunnel and then at some point goes into an open channel on the U.S. side,” said Sally Spener, spokeswoman for the International Boundary and Water Commission, a bi-national body that oversees water issues between the United States and Mexico.

Officials say that over the last four years, at least 51 unauthorized tunnels, or more than one a month, have been found in the two border cities. Some are short, narrow passageways that require those navigating them to slither. Others are long, sophisticated underground thoroughfares strung with electric cables and ventilation hoses.

The NYT wrote about the two most remarkable tunnels found by authorities in recent years.

·        Last year, a resident tipped off the authorities to a tunnel that extended 48 feet into Mexico and 35 feet into the United States, making it one of the longest ever found in Nogales.

·        One high-end tunnel found in 2005 farther west in Calexico, Calif., originated in the master bedroom of a Mexican home and extended to a garage on the American side. It had a phone line and air conditioning, and the authorities estimated that dozens of truckloads of dirt had to be removed to build it.

“There is a joke in Nogales that someday its entire downtown will collapse into a giant sinkhole due to the many drug tunnels in the city,” Hugh Holub, a former public works director in Nogales, wrote recently.

The Americano / Agencies

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