The Subterranean Scuba-Diving Drug Mules of Mexicali

by Owen James Burke

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Photos: AP/Daily Mail.

Back in April, 28-year-old Honduran Evelio Padilla was apprehended east of Calexico, California in the All-American Canal wearing a wetsuit and carrying 55 pounds of cocaine. His discovery led authorities to the mouth of this 150 foot long underground tunnel, through which he had scuba-dived (using a rebreather) from beneath a house in Mexicali, Mexico.

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Photo: AP/U.S. Border Patrol.

Padilla, who was under the assumption that he was headed to Mexico to become a “coyote”–a smuggler of people, not drugs–plead guilty on Wednesday to possession and intent to distribute and faces 20 years behind bars.

“Drug smugglers will try anything to move their product — even scuba diving in an underwater tunnel,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. “The ingenuity of the smugglers is matched only by our determination to thwart it.”

But then, there’s a bottomless well of creativity when it comes to the resourcefulness of drug cartels for an obvious set of reasons, and for every one of these lone soldiers, or better yet these drug-filled homemade submarines, one can’t help but wonder how many efforts do succeed in getting through (and how many other ingenious methods are being employed to traffic illicit goods). You can be sure that those are numbers neither U.S. Border Patrol nor the DEA want anyone seeing. . . . Read more at the AP. –OJB

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