Drugs are not coming into America through unwalled sections of the US southern border, say former cartel members testifying at the trial of Mexican kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman.
The traffickers have said the majority of drugs come in through legal ports of entry on ships, submarines, trains, tractor-trailers and cars.
Additionally, most smugglers are not undocumented immigrants but rather legal drivers allowed to enter the US.
It comes as President Trump has pushed for a wall or a steel barrier to be built along the southern border, insisting it will help curb the amount of drugs entering America.
Jesus Zambada Garcia, a former high-ranking leader for the cartel Sinaloa, testified on behalf of the government abut the efficiency of tunnels.
“A tunnel is the most secure way to cross drugs to the US – the easiest way to cross over weapons,” Zambada Garcia said.
When officials began cracking down on the tunnels, that’s when drug traffickers began turning their attention towards legal ports of entry.
Hidden tunnel’s dug under existing walls were the key issue during the nearly three years I spent covering border issues.
According to Zambada Garcia, tractor-trailers had ‘double bottoms’ with hidden compartments to hide drugs.
Cocaine and heroin would also be hidden inside cans of chili or in vacuum-sealed bags covered in grease to throw off drug-sniffing dogs.
However, Trump is insistent that a wall at the US-Mexico will be what stops the influx of drugs from entering the country.
In a tweet last week, he wrote:
…The Steel Barrier, or Wall, should have been built by previous administrations long ago. They never got it done – I will. Without it, our Country cannot be safe. Criminals, Gangs, Human Traffickers, Drugs & so much other big trouble can easily pour in. It can be stopped cold!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2019
In another tweet, he wrote:
We must have Security at our VERY DANGEROUS SOUTHERN BORDER, and we must have a great WALL to help protect us, and to help stop the massive inflow of drugs pouring into our country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
In fact, tractor-trailers are a popular method of smuggling in narcotics.
Some trucks are fitted with a “double bottom” that has hidden compartments.
Others are filled with goods, such as large cans of chilis, that contain sand surrounding a specially made, cylindrical brick of cocaine.
If shaken by authorities, the sand makes the cans sound like chilis are moving around inside.
From about 1990 to 1993, nearly 30 tons of cocaine were smuggled into the United States using this method, Zambada Garcia said.
Zambada Garcia’s nephew, Vicente Zambada, testified that drugs were often placed in “clavos” — hidden compartments in cars — and driven across the border through legal ports of entry.
Tirso Martinez Sanchez testified in December that between 2000 and 2003, he was able to smuggle in 30 to 50 tons of cocaine by welding false compartments into the ends of oil tanker cars.
Martinez testified that he and his associates vacuum-sealed cocaine in bags, wrapped them in plastic and rubbed them with mechanic’s grease to throw off drug-sniffing dogs.