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Drug Tunnels - A Threat to Security

The similarities are actually pretty striking. Both in Mexico and in Israel, underground tunnels present a significant challenge to law enforcement officials and security forces. What is actually most striking is the sudden attention being paid to the tunnels under the U.S.-Mexican border when their existence has been known since the 1990's (or before) and their sophistication has continued to evolve. The current issue of Time Magazine describes this growing threat.

As above ground border defenses and patrols get tougher, that subterranean vulnerability is becoming a growing problem. Since 2001, more than 100 tunnels have been discovered by U.S. law enforcement, compared with just 15 in the 1990s, and the pace is accelerating. Most of those have been uncovered through human intelligence, since there are no currently available technical means to reliably detect tunnels.

As in many cases, not only is it difficult for the U.S. authorities to identify the tunnels, but given the ease and relative cost of building them, the drug cartels with profits in the billions of dollars can afford to have only one of every 10 survive. Considering that nearly 90% of the cocaine entering the U.S. comes through Mexico and that it was reported weeks ago that Hezbollah was using the drug routes used by the Mexican drug cartels for access to the country, then the problem of drug tunnels becomes more pressing. The parallels being drawn now between the Middle Eastern terrorist groups and the Mexican Drug Cartels leads to looking at the ways in which Israel is trying to deal with the terrorist tunnels in Gaza. The Time Magazine article indicates that there were an estimate 800 tunnels running from Gaza to Egypt and that even when discovered, they were quickly reopened and returned to use. "By the end of March some 70 tons of weapons was smuggled in to replenish Hamas stocks, according to Israel's security chief, Yuval Diskin."

Most surprising is the observation that there really isn't technology available to reliably detect the tunnels.

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