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Border Tunnels, Part 3

When The Giant Tunnel was discovered in San Diego -- all 3,000 feet of it or more -- the local politicians decided to stop all of the illegal tunnel construction. Pronto. They passed a law.

Yes, so now when you are smuggling that nuclear weapon or those million pounds of cocaine you will not do it though a tunnel because you will get an extra 20 years in prison. So instead of LIFE, now you get LIFE PLUS TWENTY.

We do need to put this in perspective. The United States built a tunnel once (actually at least two of them if we include the one in Vienna) and it was in Berlin.

The tunnel went from a custom made building in West Berlin to a small buried telephone exchange cable vault in East Berlin.

This tunnel cost about $50 million -- in 1955 dollars. It was only about 10 feet below ground (because of the water table) but it was only half as long as the drug tunnel discovered in San Diego. When drug smugglers build tunnels longer and deeper than those built by the CIA we do have a problem and an extra 20 years tacked on to any sentence cannot solve the problem.

We have to find the tunnels.

What is required is to first benchmark the border in such detail that any tunnel large enough to pose a threat can be recorded. The tunnel detector won't know that it found a tunnel, it will just record what it "saw." Once a history is recorded for the border area of interest then new scans will show changes which would hint at something that is very likely to be a tunnel.

The United States Army built sensitive tunnel detection hardware nearly 20 years ago and it worked well then and can work even better today.

A concerned 12 year old boy actually built an extremely sensitive border tunnel detector as a science fair project. He used the proven U.S. Army method and detected changes in the earth as small as the removal of six inches of earth. His detector found such changes even 100 feet away.

Of course, no one took it seriously because it worked. The Department of Energy's Sandia Laboratories has used the 12 year old boy's science to build inspection systems to scan 40 foot cargo containers in 30 seconds. It works.

When queried by the media, Immigration and Customs Inspection (not the U.S. Border Patrol) said that they were already using Ground Penetrating Radar (which had just been proved -- by a 3,000 foot long tunnel being used for years -- did not work) and were happy with what they had.

Detecting access to storm drain systems is an easier problem to solve because very sensitive fiber optic devices are available. Such devices can detect movement along the drain and certainly the original seismic event of the breakthrough into the drain. These systems also offer manhole cover sensors

The other way to detect these tunnels is to detect not the tunnel but the dirt being hauled away. If you have a line array of seismic sensors and you listen to all the noises that are coming from south of the border then it is pretty easy to detect the thumps of trucks full of dirt driving over bumps. By using several sensors it is possible to "point" to the spot where all those bump noises are happening. If this system determines that somebody must be building a ten story building and all that's on the site is a one story wooden house, then TUNNEL might leap to mind.

That 3,000 foot long tunnel took the removal of maybe 400 full sized dump trucks of dirt or 3,000 full pickup trucks.

 


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