Behold the Architectural Genius of Mexico's Subterranean Drug-Smuggling TunnelsS

This is "Mexican Drug Blood," a regular feature on the deadly Mexican drug wars.

With the blessing of Jesús Malverde and, of course, the Virgin of Guadalupe, the drug cartels have had to figure out how to introduce their contraband into the US territories without the authorities detecting and seizing it. In just one week, three narco-tunnels have been discovered, with one located in Sonora and two in Tijuana. These are attributed to Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán who has, for years, been enlisting the help of engineers and architects in the construction of subterranean corridors in order to avoid customs and sneak drugs into the United States.

It is not the first time—nor do we believe it will be the last—that the narco-traffickers have built a tunnel, which is truly a great example of modern engineering and through which they brought drugs, people, weapons and money from San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora to San Luis Arizona, in the United States.

The narco-tunnel was discovered by the National Defense Secretary, in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who had, since January, already been investigating the construction located on Morelos Street and Internacional Avenue, next to the Mexican border. This was where they had announced the opening of a new business to sell purified water with the corporate name "Ice Land." Rumors say that the cartels are so desperate to find ways of sneaking drugs into the United States that it has pushed both them and the engineers to unsuspected lengths in order to create constructions like this tunnel 18 meters in depth, 230 meters in length, 1.3 meters high and one meter wide.

The tunnel has electric installations, ventilation, beam reinforcements every 30 centimeters, wood clad walls, a ceiling and floor, as well as carts to carry the drugs to a warehouse located in San Luis, Arizona. It is believed to have been used for approximately a year and it is said that drugs and migrant workers were smuggled from Mexico to the United States while money and weapons were transported from the United States into Mexico.

Oddly enough, the operation was concluded with no arrests made nor were any drugs or weapons found. However, it is believed to be a project headed by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, leader of Sinaloa cartel, as no other organization would dare to build a construction of this type and with such dimensions. The work is said to have cost approximately two million dollars, an amount which could only have been paid by El Chapo, who has been reported to be one of the wealthiest persons in the world by Forbes magazine.

Welcome to San Diego, Narco

Behold the Architectural Genius of Mexico's Subterranean Drug-Smuggling TunnelsS

Shortly after the North American and Mexican authorities had provided some details about the sophisticated narco-tunnel of Sonora, the Mexican Army was informed about the discovery of two other subterranean tunnels in Tijuana connected to the city of San Diego. One of the tunnels had been constructed with the blessing of Jesús Malverde and the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose altar was found at the entrance of the construction. This tunnel, which hasn't yet been attributed to any specific cartel, also had a ventilation system, wood cladding and rails on which to transport the drugs, in some kind of small trains.

There is little information available about who could have constructed it, but it is also believed to be the work of Chapo Guzman, as Jesús Malvede is a "saint" mainly idolized in Sinaloa, home to the headquarters of the cartel led by the world's most wanted narco-trafficker. The entrance to the subterranean corridor was under a toilet in a recycling warehouse in Tijuana, in the borough of Centenario, Mesa de Otay, approximately 350 meters from the border. It still did not have any exit to the United States, even though it was already constructed some 100 meters inside the North American territory. In this operation, the Mexican Army found at least 50 tons of marijuana in three trucks and arrested three people who are already being investigated.

The other narco-tunnel was found in a warehouse located on Noria and Praderas avenues, in Granjas Familiares del Matamoros. This tunnel is less sophisticated than the others and has a depth of approximately 10 meters, which can be accessed by pipes. The entrance was hidden by packages, but it could be entered with no problem further down the corridor. It also had mini-train rails for transporting drugs.

This tunnel is close to the place where a similar construction was found which had been used years ago by people from the Sinaloa cartel, leaded by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. The cartels, and in this case specifically the Sinaloa cartel, are said to be desperate because they can no longer smuggle drugs into the United Stated by land or by air. They have had to figure out how to evade the authorities, who are increasingly alert to drug trafficking.

However, the construction of tunnels is nothing new. El Chapo Guzmán is said to have ordered the construction of one of them by the architect Felipe de Jesús Corona, whose work really pleased the narco-trafficker.The tunnel was 61 meters long and had an entrance which was elevated by means of a hydraulic system and opened through a false water valve. The architect was arrested and condemned in 2006 to 18 years in prison. Because of this and other precedents, it is almost certain that these narco-tunnels discovered are the work of Chapo Guzmán, as they are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and are constructed with modern machinery that costs thousands of dollars, which only the Sinaloa cartel can afford.

During the six years that president Felipe Calderón has been in government, more than 100 tunnels have been discovered—twice as many as were unearthed throughout the 15 years prior to his government service.

Translated by Rosa Gregori. Images courtesy of Especial.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez Vazquez has been editor of El Nuevo Alarma! since 1981.