Good tunnel, good weed – what to do?
By any measure the drug tunnel discovered last week in a Californian warehouse is impressive. Presumably without the aid of a structural engineer or a front end loader the 400 yard tunnel was built 20 feet underground from Mexico to California. The tunnel included lighting, ventilation, a drainage system and a Starbucks at either end. Authorities discovered 14 tons of marijuana in the tunnel and warehouse.
I would ask why they didn’t find the Mexican drug tunnel sooner, but I know from experience that tunnels can be well hidden. As a kid, my backyard was so full of tunnels it looked like a sinkhole. My friend, Jim Bryce was a master. True story - in only five months, he and his two teenage brothers dug a tunnel over ten feet underground. They dug in the middle of the night in his backyard and carted the dirt away in grocery carts. Their tunnel evolved into a subterranean housing system, replete with cement walls, carpeted rooms, electricity and even a TV. If a couple of teenagers can build an underground multi-level dwelling and go unnoticed, I’m not surprised that more tunnels haven’t been found.
Frankly, I’m more concerned about the tunnel diggers than the weed. If the tunnel diggers are caught they can’t be incarcerated. The minute they enter prison, they will just tunnel their way to escape. Or worse, they’ll stay and serve their sentence all the while teaching the other inmates how to dig drug/escape tunnels. The last thing we need is more skilled tunnel diggers.
It would certainly help if border access could be secured. In an effort to restrict access to the U.S., Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann signed a pledge for construction of a fence along the entire length of the Mexican border, approximately 2000 miles by 2013. Bachmann’s fence idea may be wilting as it is made more and more obvious that those motivated to cross the border (like drug cartels) aren’t deterred by such impediments. Aside from the cost of the materials, the labor costs will be so high that it may make sense to have the fence built in Mexico and then shipped to the U.S. for installation. The money intended for fence construction may be better spent on research and development of an invisible shield that extends both above and below ground.Drug Cartels have chosen warehouses along the Mexican border as a prime tunnel entry point as trucks can load and exit the warehouse unseen. In an effort to reduce the number of warehouse tunnels, U.S. authorities recently initiated a campaign to alert warehouse landlords. Authorities sent out a list of warning signs that indicate that someone might be building a tunnel in the warehouse. The warning signs included “sounds of jackhammers” (digging a tunnel in the ground), “piles of dirt” (coming out of the tunnel) and “the scent of unburned marijuana” (coming through the tunnel). One warning sign omitted from the list was “an envelope addressed to the warehouse landlord filled with non-sequential, unmarked 100 dollar bills.”
Some Californians believe that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities are a waste of time, public funds and good weed. One resident pointed out “I don’t know why they bother hauling all that weed through a tunnel when everyone knows the best weed in the world is grown in California.”
However, the DEA and ICE activities may not be completely fruitless. One ounce of Mexican weed has an approximate street value of $200 making the 14 tons worth $89,600,000. With an underfunded pension fund and a total debt of close to 50 billion dollars, California might consider selling the marijuana back to Mexico.
It’s fair to say that as long as there are stoners buying the weed, there will be dealers going under, over and around the border to sell the weed.