Will a wall alone, separating the U.S. from Mexico really stop the flow of drugs into the country? While proponents of President Trump’s wall say yes, law enforcement and drug smuggling authorities say no.
News reports of drug smugglers using tunnels under existing Mexico-U.S. barriers are common and not surprising to border patrol agents. Recently, a tunnel that Mexican police suspected was being used by smugglers to transfer people and drugs across the border was discovered near Arizona. It was the third drug smuggling tunnel found in just one month.
First reported by the Arizona Republic, this Nogales, Sonora, tunnel is roughly 32 feet long and is thought to have taken several months to create. When law enforcement finds these tunnels, they destroy them by using explosives that effectively seal the tunnel. However, for every tunnel destroyed, the border patrol estimates five more are built to replace it.
Drugs Also Come Through Ports of Entry
Police officers working for the Arizona Department of Transportation recently confiscated a half-ton of marijuana when they stopped a delivery van driving in northwest Arizona on Interstate 15 near Utah and Nevada. The delivery van proved to be a fake van carrying over 1110 pounds of pot and other illegal drugs.
Police stopped the van because it should have had Arizona plates on it (if it had been a real delivery van). However, an officer noticed the van had a North Carolina license plate and became suspicious.
In October 2018, Mexican and U.S. authorities discovered a partially built drug-smuggling tunnel equipped with solar-powered lights, a ventilation system and even a rail track. U.S. border patrol agents stated the tunnel measured nearly 630 feet in length. When they found it, tunnel excavators had begun constructing an exit just north of the Mexican-U.S. border. Solar panels had already been assembled to power ventilation and lighting systems as well as pumps to drain water from the tunnel.
Common Drugs Trafficked into the U.S. Through Underground Tunnels
Mexico is the #1 supplier of marijuana to the U.S., which is the top generator of massive amounts of cash for Mexican drug lords. Although cocaine is not produced in Mexico, drug cartels transport cocaine through Central and South America to smuggle it across the border. In fact, nearly 95 percent of the cocaine sold in America is made in South America.
Mexico is also the biggest supplier of methamphetamine to the U.S. Makeshift meth labs are set up by drug cartels in Mexico and the United States, where meth is easily made using cheap chemicals like pseudoephedrine, acetone and anhydrous ammonia. Other chemicals have also been found in methamphetamine sold by Mexican drug smugglers that are even more dangerous to your health than standard meth ingredients.
The U.S. Opioid Epidemic Is Making Drug Cartels Rich
Mexican drug lords make billions of dollars in profits every year from smuggling drugs into the U.S. through tunnels or by simply passing them through ports of entry. Cartels receive money made by selling drugs in the U.S. by paying individuals to drive bags of cash over the Mexico-U.S. border in inconspicuous vehicles.
Interviews with drug smugglers caught and arrested in tunnels or attempting to pass through ports of entry reveal that the opioid epidemic is fueling the growing power and wealth of Mexican and South American drug cartels.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12 percent of people who are prescribed opioids for pain become addicted to them. Nearly 7 percent turn to abusing heroin when they can no longer obtain prescription opioids. An estimated 80 percent of people misusing prescribed opioids develop an addiction to heroin.
Instead of building a wall, experts strongly urge more funds to be diverted to community addiction recovery centers where drug addicts can get the long-term, evidence-based help they need to beat their addiction.