Thanks, in part, to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, tunnels have become synonymous with drugs. El Chapo reportedly used an elaborate tunnel to escape jail and he used these underground passageways to build his trafficking empire in Mexico. They are certainly nothing new; the first drug tunnel found along the border was in 1990. But in Arizona, authorities found a new structure that reminds us that tunnels come with interesting twists.
On August 13, police arrested a man, identified as Iván López, and found 370 pounds of narcotics hidden inside a toolbox, according to Univision. Authorities also found 118 grams of methamphetamine, six grams of cocaine, 28 pounds of heroine, and six pounds of coffee heroin, a light brown type of heroin produced in Mexico. One of the most interesting parts of the discovery is that the tunnel had a hydraulic elevator powered by oil.
The suspect had retrieved the box from an abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken establishment in San Luis, Arizona, that he owned. There, authorities found a 900-foot tunnel that ran from Arizona to Sonora, Mexico. The tunnel’s entrance — found inside the KFC kitchen — had a diameter of eight inches, which is why authorities belief the tunnel transported narcotics with a system of pulleys and ropes.
Though the tunnel was found in Arizona, the investigation was a collaboration between authorities from both Mexico and the United States. Authorities have found 181 tunnels in the last 25 years along the US-Mexico border. The conversation around drug tunnels has risen since Donald Trump first called for the construction of a wall between the US-Mexico border in 2016 to deter narco cartels from transporting merchandise between the two countries. Critics rapidly raised concerns, saying a wall would only stop foot traffic, not tunnels.
The longest tunnel ever found along the US-Mexico border, which measured 905 feet, was discovered in 2015. The cross-border KFC tunnel may not have broken any records, but it’ll certainly remain memorable.