TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in the border city of Nogales, Arizona, believe smugglers were using an international sewage line to transport drugs into the U.S. from Mexico when the pipe became clogged, sending gallons of waste through an illegal tunnel and into a house and local businesses.
City officials discovered waste coming out of the house near the border with Mexico on Sunday. City Manager Shane Dille said there was so much waste that it was oozing from the front door and side of the house.
The international pipeline runs through Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, and carries 10 million gallons of waste each day, Dille said. It was connected to a tunnel that led to a house on a Nogales street near the border.
He said a video feed showed several bundles that had gotten clogged in the sewage line, forcing waste to travel through an underground tunnel connected to the house.
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“It appears that they couldn’t stay up with the flow of the sewer line and bundles, and created a blockage in the line. The sewer has to go somewhere, so it started to come out of the hole that they made,” Dille said.
The house is likely a complete loss and two nearby businesses were affected by the spillage, Dille said. He said city officials have not been able to reach the tunnel or sewer line yet to extract what he believes are drug bundles.
Drug smugglers have been known to get creative in their attempts to get drugs into the U.S. In one case, smugglers built a ramp on the tall steel border fence and attempted to drive a sport utility vehicle over it, but failed when the vehicle got stuck atop the fence.
But this is the first time in recent memory that criminal organizations have used sewage lines in Nogales to transport drugs, Dille said.
Dille said the U.S. Border Patrol was monitoring the situation but that the city is in charge of the investigation. City workers were clearing out the waste and hoped to reach the bundles by Tuesday afternoon, Dille said.