Drug Agents Discover U.S.-Canadian Border Tunnel
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This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
An elaborately constructed drug smuggling tunnel has been discovered along the US-Canadian border. So far five people have been arrested, three have been charged in the US with conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
WENDY KAUFMAN reporting:
Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border have been monitoring construction of the tunnel for several months. Gregory Gassett of the Drug Enforcement Administration says the tunnel began underneath a Quonset hut near Aldergrove, British Columbia. It ended 360 feet away under the living room of a house on the US side of the border.
Mr. GREGORY GASSETT (Drug Enforcement Administration): There's never been a tunnel this sophisticated. It's built with two-by-sixes, thousands of boards of two-by-six. It's got lighting. It also has a ventilation system and sump pumps to remove the water.
KAUFMAN: Law enforcement officials say that with the aid of court-approved cameras and listening devices, they were able to follow the movements of the drug traffickers just as their enterprise was being launched. US attorney John McKay says the men were using large bags to transport the marijuana through the tunnel.
Mr. JOHN McKAY (US Attorney): I can say that the techniques employed by the people who drove the drugs away from the tunnel were very sophisticated and the kind that we usually see in connection with very organized drug enterprises.
KAUFMAN: Officials say that one of the men arrested is a fugitive from an earlier DEA investigation. Since the year 2000, drug enforcement agents have detected and shut down 25 tunnels between the US and Mexico, but this is the first tunnel found on the US-Canadian border, according to the DEA. And prosecutor McKay says such a tunnel threatens the security of both the US and Canada.
Mr. McKAY: It isn't necessarily the contraband that concerns us in the end. It's people coming through that tunnel, whether they are engaged in human trafficking or even terrorism.
KAUFMAN: The investigation into the tunnel enterprise is continuing. Additional charges and arrests are expected.
Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.
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