On April 21, multiple sources began reporting that the U.S. government is looking into a detection system manufactured by Israel to detect underground tunnels. The technology would be able to spot these human-created tunnels, typically designed for the transport of drugs and other illegal goods.
This detector would be the first of its kind if it were to go mainstream for government use. The Israeli government has been funding the development of the technology for five years, but it has just started to make headlines.
More than 100 companies have allegedly been involved in the creation of the underground detector. Civilian engineers, infrastructure contractors and tunnel construction experts have all been involved in its creation.
Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon says that the search for tunnels has been at the top of the country's priority list. News of the tunnel detector's existence came shortly after the discovery of a concrete-lined tunnel near the Gaza border, spanning more than one mile.
In the U.S., the government would likely use the tunnel detecting technology along the Mexico border. At the moment, tunnels are discovered through tips from informants or investigative work, rather than technology. The U.S. currently has equipment to locate land mines, natural gas and oil deposits. However, none of these items are advanced enough to handle the detection of tunnels.
With the technology from Israel, the U.S. hopes to hone in on tunnels and save costs that would otherwise go toward developing its own system. The government has set aside $120 million for Israel to continue developing the tunnel detector over the next three years.
On April 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it had uncovered one of the longest-ever underground tunnels along the California border. It was 800 yards in length and began at a house in Tijuana, Mexico. Six people were arrested in drug trafficking and tunnel-related charges.
"This case is a strong reminder of the vulnerabilities that exist along the Southwest border," said Hunter Davis, director of Air Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations. "Drug trafficking organizations continue to jeopardize our National Security in exchange for profit."