Police discover underground tunnel running from former KFC to Mexico
It may have seemed outlandish to some that in Breaking Bad, Gus Fring operated a drug empire from behind the doors of a family-friendly fast food restaurant - but this fiction wasn't too far from the truth.
Earlier this month, authorities in Arizona discovered $1 million in various drugs during a traffic stop, but their findings didn't end there. Soon enough, they were led to a 600-foot tunnel running all the way to a private home in Mexico - starting in a former KFC.
On August 13, police in San Luis, Arizona, saw the owner of a now-abandoned business, bringing several plastic containers outside and loading them onto a trailer. Court documents obtained by KGUN describe that they pulled him over for an unspecified equipment violation, but during the traffic stop a narcotics dog alerted them to the presence of drugs.
Inside were 239 packages of various drug substances, 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. According to Homeland Security Special Agent Scott Brown, who spoke to KYMA on Wednesday about the bust, the fentanyl alone "translates to over 3 million dosage units". The total value of the drugs seized was over $1 million.
The suspect, later identified as Jesus Ivan Lopez Garcia, is currently facing federal charges including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. It has been reported that Garcia bought the property, which used to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, in April for $390,000. Apparently, however, "the structure was vacant in recent years and was not used for business," according to the court documents.
Two days after the initial arrest, a full search of the vacant fast food restaurant was conducted, and the entrance to the tunnel was found inside. Homeland Secruity Investigations officials confirmed to KYMA that the tunnel was 22 feet deep and travelled nearly 590 feet underground, before reaching a private home across the border. The tunnel ends in a trap door underneath a bed in the home, located in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico.
Court documents described the construction of the drug tunnel:
"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."
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that a drug trafficking tunnel has been constructed into the United States. In 2016, a tunnel nearly half a mile long was found running from San Diego to Tijuana. And in 2012, police discovered a "sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel" running from the same locations as the 2018 find.
Almost 200 cross border tunnels have been discovered since 1990, the Independent reported, although these have been of various sizes and success rates. Homeland Security even has its own tunnel task force to deal with these sorts of crimes.