Mexican Inmate: I Was Duped Into Digging Tunnel to US

Authorities don't believe him, 16 other inmates
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2014 12:28 PM CST
Mexican Inmate: I Was Duped Into Digging Tunnel to US
This July 8, 2004 file photo shows a Mexican federal agent crawls through a hidden tunnel, presumably used to transport drugs from Mexico to the US.   (AP Photo/David Maung)

Who digs the stunning drug tunnels snaking between the US and Mexico? According to 17 inmates in a Mexican jail, they're dug by unwitting slaves like them. One man tells NPR that a man lured him to a warehouse in Tijuana in 2012 by promising to take him to the US. Instead, men with ski masks and rifles "threw me to the ground and started beating me up … They told me what I was going to do, and if I didn't, they would kill me."

For the next few months, the man says he worked 12-hour shifts with six others, digging the tunnels without any machinery. "There was this laser beam we had to follow, right down the middle," he said; if they deviated from it, or didn't dig fast enough, the men would beat them. When police raided the operation, the workers rushed to thank them. They were convinced the men would have killed them once the job was done, so as to keep the tunnel a secret. But authorities arrested them, and don't believe their story. The men now face 35 years in prison. (More Mexico stories.)

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