In Depth

US drugs tunnel discovered running from old KFC in Arizona to Mexico bedroom

Authorities arrest vacant restaurant owner after finding 180m passageway

US authorities have discovered a secret drug tunnel that runs from a home in Mexico to an abandoned KFC restaurant in Arizona.

The 600ft (180m) passageway “was in the basement of the old restaurant in San Luis, leading under the border to a home in San Luis Rio Colorado”, reports the BBC.

Police were alerted to the tunnel after the suspect, the building’s owner, Ivan Lopez, was pulled over, according to KYMA News.

Lopez was arrested after police found several packages of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl in the back of his truck.

Police then searched the vacant restaurant two days later and discovered the entrance to a tunnel inside, court documents said.

“This tunnel would take this drug trafficking organisation a long time to construct and would have been very expensive,” the court documents state. “Such an endeavour necessarily requires a combination of several individuals on both sides of the border, engaged in an intricate, risky transnational conspiracy to construct such a secretive structure.”

The passageway was 22ft deep, 5ft tall and 3ft wide, and ended at a trap door under a bed in a home in Mexico, said US officials.

“One of the things that tunneling does tell us is that as we increase infrastructure, resources, patrol, that’s forcing them to go to more costly routes into the US,” Scott Brown, the special agent in charge for the US Department of Homeland Security, told the Associated Press.

Brown said his agency has been seeing an increase in tunnels, which are expensive to build and take long periods of time. He said a functioning tunnel can cost cartels hundreds of thousands of dollars to build.

“Tunnels are a time-consuming venture, but it has definitely increased since the border security measures have ramped up,” he added.

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