NOGALES, AZ - Authorities shut down the longest drug tunnel ever found in Nogales, Ariz., Monday night after a multi-agency investigation by the Nogales Tunnel Task Force.
The tunnel clocked in at 481 feet and runs between two private homes on both sides of the border, in Nogales, Sonora and in Nogales, Ariz. Most of the tunnel is in the U.S., with only 70 feet stretching into Mexico, officials said.
Mexican nationals Jose Solorzano Flores, 41, and Jose Mario Armenta-Valdez, 41, and U.S. citizen Jesus Alberto Ramirez-Valencia, 22, were charged with drug conspiracy charges and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tucson on Tuesday.
During the tunnel takedown, the Task Force also seized more than 640 pounds of marijuana and a half-pound of heroin, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Officials discovered the tunnel after finding information about drug smuggling at a private residence in Nogales, Ariz. Task Force members followed Ramirez-Valencia's vehicle after he left the home and he consented to having his vehicle searched. Authorities found 24 bales of marijuana in the car, ICE says.
Authorities served Ramirez-Valencia with a federal search warrant on his house, where they found the tunnel entrance, a half-pound of heroin and two more bundles of marijuana, according to ICE.
The Nogales Tunnel Task Force is made up of members from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations team, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, Nogales Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Santa Cruz County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force. The group is tasked with finding and investigating drug tunnels in the Nogales area and combating the criminals that use them.