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California trio charged with serious drug crimes

Three defendants are in custody in California, facing charges of drug smuggling after federal officials discovered a massive tunnel beneath the U.S.-Mexico border. The defendants were accused of the drug crime after federal authorities reportedly confiscated an enormous eight tons of marijuana. Further, about 325 pounds of cocaine were said to be discovered in the underground tunnel, which was about 600 yards long.

Authorities say they are astounded at the size of the drug smuggling operation, which is one of the most extensive and sophisticated ever to be discovered. The tunnel was outfitted with ventilation systems and an electronic railway, in addition to other features. Federal officials shut the tunnel down after an intensive investigation, which led to the arrest of the three defendants.

This is the first time that cocaine has been seized in a tunnel investigation. Border agents say they have identified three such tunnels in the past three years, all of which were shut down before the drugs could actually be transported into the country.

Officers said the tunnel is an engineering feat, probably requiring some $1 million to construct, including the involvement of professionals such as architects and engineers. Many drug cartels choose to use the Tijuana warehouse districts as cover for their underground smuggling operations, but officials say these massive trafficking rings are becoming increasingly desperate. Cartels are now using alternate methods such as boat smuggling and trafficking through ultralight airplanes.

It is not clear whether the three defendants were coerced into working for the cartel that operated this tunnel. Cartels are widely known throughout the continent for their ruthless behavior, which can include murder and other serious crimes. These defendants may have been conscripted into working for the cartels. Even though these people are accused of serious drug crimes, they deserve to have a fair trial so they can tell their stories. The American justice system is designed to protect such defendants by providing them with a comprehensive list of legal rights.

Source: www.nytimes.com, "Tunnel for Smuggling Found Under U.S.-Mexico Border; Tons of Drugs Seized" Liam Dillon & Ian Lovett, Oct. 31, 2013

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