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Earlier this week, Canadian invesigators found a tunnel that runs under the border between British Columbia and Washington that ran drugs and guns between the two countries. American officials say that while they have uncovered more than 30 such tunnels between the US and Mexico, the BC-Washington tunnel is the first on our northern border, and one of the most sophisticated they've seen:
The smugglers spent more than a year building the 360-foot (110-meter) tunnel that ran from a Quonset hut-style storage building in the rural Aldergrove neighborhood of Langley, British Columbia, to the living room of a home in Lynden, Washington, U.S. and Canadian investigators said.
"It was well built, probably one of the most sophisticated tunnels we've ever seen," said Rod Benson, an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "There was a significant drug trafficking organization that was responsible for the construction."
Video supplied by investigators showed that the inside of the tunnel was lined with wood supports and concrete reinforced with steel. The builders had installed a small cart to allow them to move freight or people from one end to the other. ...
Large quantities of potent "B.C. Bud" are smuggled to the United States each year from British Columbia, where illegal marijuana growing has been estimated to be a more than C$2 billion-a-year industry ($1.7 billion).
Investigators said that while they believe it had only been used briefly to smuggle marijuana to the United States, the tunnel was also likely intended to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States and cocaine and guns into Canada.
The RCMP arrested three men involved in the tunnel, including Francis Devandra Raj, who owned the property at the Canadian end of the tunnel. All three were "well known" to Canadian authorities, who point out that such an activity had to have major financing to complete the project:
Acquiring the properties and building the tunnel would have cost more than $1-million, Insp. Fogarty said. The 1.2-metre by 1.2-metre tunnel, running between one metre and three metres below the surface, was wired for lighting and included a sump pump to drain off water regularly and a mechanical winch to raise or lower cartloads of drugs. It is the first tunnel ever discovered on the Canada-U.S. border.
Insp. Fogarty, who led the RCMP's combined forces special enforcement unit during the investigation, said the police believe the people who constructed the tunnel associated with members of organized crime networks in B.C. that ship multimillion-dollar drug orders across the border.
Does this set off warning bells for anything else other than drug running? Why would a drug-running syndicate sink that much money into a tunnel when drugs can get muled across the border much less expensively? A million-dollar tunnel is a hell of a lot of overhead for a two-billion-dollar industry, which is what the Canadian marijuana market pulls in every year. It also involves significant risk of detection and capture; in fact, according to the news reports, authorities got tipped off by the amount of lumber brought into the small rural community and the debris coming back out from this property. Even given the possibility of a crime syndicate having leadership with long-range vision and a willingness to invest in infrastructure, it seems unlikely that they would spend that kind of money through associates.
The amount of investment and the sophistication and expense of the tunnel makes me wonder if that money didn't come through other sources. The article mentions efforts to smuggle illegal aliens from Canada to the US. Given that our mutual border does not represent a firm bulwark against infiltration in the first place, what kind of illegals did this tunnel transfer to Washington? Perhaps the kind mentioned in this CBC report from last May, based on a report from the Toronto Star (requires fee):
The majority of al-Qaeda recruits in Canada are being trained at home, not abroad, making the terror network a direct threat to Canada, according to a recently declassified intelligence report.
The homegrown recruits are highly prized for their familiarity with Western societies, says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service report, obtained by the Toronto Star.
AQ involvement in Canada is nothing new. Front Page Magazine reported on this in 2002, and Time Magazine in 2003. Time reported that Osama bin Laden specifically wanted new recruits with a command of English and thorough knowledge of North American geogragphy and customs. Front Page quoted Canadian intelligence officials that AQ had established terrorist cells in Canada, describing them as "sleeper cells", designed to hide themselves for long periods of time before receiving orders to attack.
The only problems in establishing cells in Canada are that the targets AQ wants to hit are here in the US, and border travel has become somewhat riskier since 9/11. Since the AQ organization has financing and doesn't mind spending it on one-off opportunities, the tunnel makes much more sense for that purpose than a long-term investment in pot smuggling, especially when one considers the care that went into building it. Illegals may have already come through the tunnel, and it hardly seems reasonable that Canadians want to escape from an economy essentially similar to ours, or that they would need to do so illegally.
So what kind of people need to come through an underground tunnel from Canada to the United States? Not the kind of people who want to work jobs other Americans disdain, I suspect, but the kind that "disdains" Americans altogether.Sphere It View blog reactions
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