Border Tunnels, Part 2
The problem with wandering about looking for something important
like a tunnel is that you really do not know what it should look
like when you find it because you have not seen it in exactly
the spot you are now looking.
Yes, if you do not know what it should look like then you don't
know what you are looking for. This is not an important issue
to Washington, D.C.
There may be all sorts of "things" beneath the ground
that affect your detector and that have been there all along and
you did not know it because you never looked here before.
The best way to find a tunnel is to make a history of the area
and then compare that history with what you found this time.
Why do we explore tunnel finding methods before we describe tunnels?
Because if the smugglers think they know what methods we might
use to find their tunnel then they will build their tunnel to
evade such detection methods.
Some tunnels can be 3,000 feet long, three feet
wide and seven feet high with concrete floors, railroad rails,
electric lights, water pumps, and Port a-Potties half way along
the tunnel. Such tunnels will be very deep indeed.
The last tunnel discovered of this type was about
80 feet below ground.
This kind of investment is reserved for places
like the San Diego / Tijuana area. This tunnel cannot be detected
by the government's"fashionable" detection methods in
These fashionable methods include "Ground
Penetrating" Radar (GPR). GPR usually does not penetrate
deeper than about 40 feet. GPR is used in the San Diego area.
People with interest in such things, south of
the border, watch ICE people north of the border using GPR equipment
in the "No Man's Land" between the primary and secondary
fences. They have binoculars and video cameras and radios and
think a bit.
This tunnel was, therefore, put 80 feet below
Most tunnels are far smaller and shallower. In
Calexico the tunnels can be two feet in diameter, 70 feet long
and often only five feet below ground. In Calexico they do have
the problem of a shallow water table and so tunnels deeper than
about 18 feet can pose a serious problem to the builders.
One method of making such tunnels invisible to
DHS people is to put the tunnel at an angle. Going directly across
the border due north will look like you have a tunnel going directly
due north. If you instead dig your tunnel at an angle -- a 45
to 70 degree angle -- then this cannot be a tunnel because it
is not going due north.
The best way -- according to DHS
in their instructions to border people -- to find tunnels
is to drive your vehicle over the ground and when your wheel
falls in a hole, you have discovered a tunnel (really).
are made and the digger becomes a permanent part of his work.
The last method of "tunneling" is to
take advantage of existing infrastructure. All along the border
smugglers will dig very shallow tunnels -- sometimes more like
caves -- that intercept some existing storm drain along the U.S.
side of the border. Once into the storm drain the smuggler can
crawl in concrete lined luxury to the nearest curbside manhole
cover and exit. This can be very bad if you have a group of ten
and one of the ten -- maybe the third one trying to exit -- has
wide hips. Suddenly you have this Giant Odd Wriggling Event at
curbside and Americans arrive in red trucks with ladders and helmets
and then they call in special red painted rescue trucks and after
hours of jack hammering, you are all summarily deported.
If the tunnel is to be used for some extended
period of time then the smuggler will not do anything to the U.S.
side of the drain system that might give them away. For example,
there was one tunnel that accessed a storm drain on the U.S. side
and the smuggler would crawl through the drain and simply hand
huge packets of drugs up to his accomplice in a van parked in
a parking lot not 50 feet from U.S. federal officers. How did
they hide this from the officers? They cut a hole in the floor
of the van and then dropped a blanket through the hole in the
floor of the van and passed all the drugs through this drapery
Others are quicker thinkers and just use the
existing storm drain system required by treaty that allows free
flow of "fluids" between the USA and Mexico. These people
will bring cutting torches and battery powered saws and just walk
north up the pipe and then burn and hack away at the steel grates
on the north end of the storm drain.
Stopping this quite successful method requires
the use -- by DHS -- of steel tubing six inches in diameter that
is filled with concrete. This works because standard saws can't
cut stuff six inches in diameter and torches can't burn through
it because they can't access the far side in the time they have
before several groups of people peer down at them with red lights
flashing and the smell of gun leather in their nostrils. What
kind of grate is used today? Well, not that.