- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2018

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the discovery of an underground tunnel linking Mexico and an abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in San Luis, Arizona.

The tunnel was discovered last Tuesday, Aug. 14, as authorities executed a search warrant inside a former KFC located roughly 200 yards north of the international border, said Scott Brown, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent.

The building’s owner, Jesus Ivan Lopez Garcia, was arrested the previous day after police found 168 kilograms of hard drugs —including two boxes brimming with meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl — while searching Mr. Garcia’s pickup truck during a traffic stop, Mr. Brown told reporters.

Authorities subsequently obtained search warrants for Mr. Garcia’s property, including an abandoned KFC restaurant nearly within earshot of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, where inside law enforcement found a nearly 600-foot-long tunnel located beneath a concrete slab in the building’s former kitchen, Mr. Brown said at a press conference.

The tunnel was roughly 22-feet deep and led to beneath a bed located inside a residence in Mexico, Mr. Brown added. The opening on the American side was only about 8 measures in diameter, according to authorities, suggesting the tunnel was used to smuggle contraband as opposed to people.

“A clandestine, unauthorized, underground tunnel traversing the United States and the Republic of Mexico is not the sort of undertaking that could have been accomplished by Defendant alone,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents filed against Mr. Garcia following last week’s discovery.

“Such tunnels, not uncommon to the border of the United States and the Republic of Mexico, are almost exclusively used for the smuggling of narcotics from Mexico into the United States,” prosecutors noted.

Mr. Brown noted that the three kilograms of fentanyl seized during last Monday’s traffic stop amounted to “over three million dosage units” of the deadly synthetic opioid.

“As a nation in the midst of an opioid crisis this is a very significant seizure,” he told reporters.

Mr. Garcia purchased the restaurant in April for $390,000, according to court filings. He has been charged with four counts of possession of intent to distribute narcotics, as well as conspiracy to construct a border tunnel in violation of federal law, and was denied bail on Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge James F Metcalf.

Paul Ramos, an attorney representing Mr. Garcia in the case, declined to discuss the case when reached for comment.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide