29 March, 2016
The United States and Mexico announced they discovered a long tunnel used to smuggle drugs into the U.S.
They said the tunnel began in a restaurant in Mexicali, Mexico and ended about 365 meters away in a new, three-bedroom home in Calexico, California. Calexico is a small city about 193 kilometers east of San Diego. About 40,000 people live there.
American officials say drug traffickers bought land in Calexico for $240,000 in April 2015. They spent $86,000 to build the house, which was completed in December.
The announcement about the tunnel was made after police arrested four people in the U.S. and two in Mexico. Two women were arrested in Arizona, including a person who reportedly bought the property in Calexico.
Police seized 1,350 pounds of marijuana in West Covina, near Los Angeles. Officials say the traffickers began smuggling illegal drugs through the tunnel February 28. Officials say they began watching the criminals when they started using the tunnel.
Laura Duffy is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. She said "this house and this tunnel were constructed under the watchful eye of law enforcement. For the builders, the financiers and the operators of these passageways, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We will seize your drugs and your tunnel before you even have a chance to use it."
Officials say this is the first time they have discovered a completed tunnel in Calexico in 10 years. They say drug gangs usually do not build tunnels into the city because the soil is hard.
Officials say the drug gangs prefer to dig tunnels near San Diego. The clay-like soil there is easier to dig. And the area is near the Mexico border and has many large storage buildings where drug gangs can store drugs.
More than 75 tunnels have been found in the past five years, mostly in California and Arizona. Many of them were not complete. The tunnel between Mexicali and Calexico was the 12th completed tunnel that American anti-drug agents have found along California's border with Mexico since 2006.
Officials say the Sinaloa drug group in Mexico has for many years controlled drug trafficking along the border of California's Imperial Valley. Long, well-built roads, called interstate freeways, let the traffickers easily transport drugs from the Valley to Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona.
The drug group has been led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. He escaped from a prison in Mexico through a tunnel in July. He was recaptured in January.
I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.
Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted this story in VOA Learning English from reports by the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
tunnel - n. an underground passageway
smuggle - v. to illegally transport drugs or people
drug traffickers - n. criminals who transport illegal drugs
financier - n. a person or group that provides money for projects
light at the end of the tunnel - expression hope of success, happiness or help after a long period of difficulty; sign of improvement in a situation that has been bad for a long time
prefer - v. to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else
clay - n. heavy, sticky dirt or earth