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Arizona, Mexico drug tunnel found under old KFC restaurant

Arizona, US — A 600-foot tunnel has been discovered after police in an Arizona border city with Mexico saw a man going in and out of an abandoned KFC with plastic containers.

Border police in the Arizona city of San Luis say they saw a man coming out of an old abandoned building two weeks ago with several plastic containers that were being loaded onto a trailer. After witnessing the loading, police say they pulled the man over for an unspecified equipment violation.

On August 13, the man, who was reported to be the owner of the abandoned KFC building, and his trailer were inspected by police and their drug dog. Arizona authorities say the inspection led to a $1 million-dollar drug bust and the discovery of the secret trafficking tunnel after the dog alerted them to the presence of narcotics.

Police say the narcotics dog picked out two containers that, when opened, were found loaded with packaged drugs.

Photo: US Customs and Border Patrol, Yuma

According to Homeland Security Special Agent Scott Brown, “Inside the containers, police found 239 packages of various drugs including over 261 pounds of methamphetamine, 14 pounds of cocaine, 30 pounds of white heroin, 13.7 pounds of brown heroin and 6.8 pounds of fentanyl. The fentanyl alone translates to over 3 million dosage units.”

The arrested man has been identified as Jesus Ivan Lopez Garcia. He is facing federal charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine. According to court documents, Lopez Garcia purchased the old KFC building in April 2018 for $390,000 USD and that “the structure was vacant in recent years and was not used for business.”

Photo: US Customs and Border Patrol, Yuma

Two days after the arrest of Lopez Garcia, police say they went back to the building. That is when they reported the discovery of the tunnel which is approximately 600 feet long and 22 feet deep and runs between the former KFC restaurant in San Luis to a private home in Mexico.

At the other end, the tunnel ended at a trap door under a bed inside the private Mexico home.

Homeland Security Investigations officials said in their court documents, “This tunnel was very well constructed and would have taken this Drug Trafficking Organization a long time to dig and would have been very expensive.

“This tunnel necessarily required a combination of several individuals on both sides of the border, engaged in an intricate, risky transnational conspiracy to construct such a secretive structure,” referring to the tunnel as “very well constructed.”

At least two other drug trafficking tunnels have been found in the past running between the two countries. In 2012, an 800-yard tunnel was found running underneath the California-Mexico border. In 2016, a half-mile long tunnel was discovered running from a house in Tijuana, Mexico to the Otay Mesa neighborhood of San Diego.