The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that tunnels along the southwest border are a growing and significant threat to security.
According to a report by the DHS OIG released December 11, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, charged with protecting the U.S. borders, lacks the technological capability to detect subterranean tunnels.
“Illicit cross-border tunnels along the southwest border are primarily used by criminals to transport illegal drugs into the United States, and they are a significant and growing threat to border security,” noted the report. “In an effort to counter this threat, CBP has modified its operations through patrols, intelligence gathering, and closing of illicit cross-border tunnels, but it does not yet have the technological capability to detect the tunnels routinely and accurately.”
“To best address this capability gap, CBP needs to develop and acquire tunnel detection technology, but it has not been able to identify existing technology that functions effectively in its operating environment,” the IG added.
“CBP is creating a Tunnel Detection and Technology Program to address capability gaps in countering the cross-border tunnel threat,” noted the IG. “As part of this effort, CBP is drafting the documents required by DHS to fund, develop, and acquire tunnel detection technology. Additionally, CBP plans to establish a Program Management Office to provide leadership, strategy, and organization to department-wide, counter-tunnel efforts.”