Drug-Smuggling Tunnel to Mexico Discovered in Closed Arizona KFC Restaurant, Authorities Say

At a press conference on August 22, federal authorities said they'd discovered a tunnel that was used for drug smuggling between a house in Mexico and a former KFC restaurant in Arizona.

The announcement came after the San Luis Police Department pulled over Ivan Lopez on August 13.

The tunnel, which is 22 feet deep and is 590 feet long, went from a house in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, to a KFC eatery in San Luis, Arizona, according to federal authorities. Lopez, who was the former owner of the KFC, was removing toolboxes from the restaurant that day, according to authorities.

Inside the drug-smuggling tunnel running from Mexico to Arizona. U.S. Customs and Border Protection

"[He had] over 118 kilograms of methamphetamine, over six kilograms of cocaine, over three kilograms of fentanyl, over 13 kilograms of white heroin and over six kilograms of brown heroin," said Scott Brown, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent, during the press conference. "Just the three kilograms of fentanyl translates to over 3 million dosage units."

Law enforcement searched the restaurant and found the tunnel, which was located in the kitchen area of the KFC, The North Jefferson News reported.

Border agents said the tunnel opening at the abandoned KFC was only 8 inches in diameter. Authorities believe smugglers used a rope to pull the illegal drugs from the tunnel, KTVK reported. Homeland Security investigators and Yuma Border Patrol agents are investigating the incident.

One of the longest cross-border tunnels between Mexico and the U.S. was discovered in 2016. The tunnel, which started under a house in Tijuana, Mexico, ran all the way to an industrial lot in Otay Mesa, California, the Associated Press previously reported. The 2,622-foot-long tunnel was three feet wide and had lighting systems, ventilation and an elevator that could fit about eight people. The exit of the tunnel was a three-foot-diameter hole in the United States that was sometimes covered by a dumpster.

At the time, authorities believed it was one of the longest tunnels to be discovered along the California-Mexico border. From it, they seized 2,242 pounds of cocaine and 14,030 pounds of marijuana, according to the Associated Press.