Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juaarez

By Howard Campbell | Go to book overview

Drug Smuggling through Tunnels:
The Tale of a Scuba-Diving Instructor

In addition to those, like the Anarchist, who deliberately chose a drugsmuggling lifestyle, there are many border residents who unintentionally became part of contraband networks. Alfonso Murat’s story is the classic case of such a person. Even though Murat is a savvy Juárez businessman who has been living in that city since 1974, in the course of his normal, day-to-day business activities, he found himself deeply involved in a drug-trafficking conspiracy. His story reveals how the invisible world of drug trafficking can suddenly become visible and profoundly affect border residents.

An accountant by trade, Murat nonetheless had specialized, technical skills that were coveted by technologically unsophisticated but crafty narco-traffickers, who paid him good money to instruct them in scuba diving. Although he was suspicious, only later did Murat realize he had been duped by smugglers. In this, he is not alone. In fact, being tricked by narco-traffickers or unintentionally aiding and abetting them is a common border experience for many, as is socializing with, doing business with, or in other ways interacting with drug dealers.

Lebanese Americans and Lebanese Mexicans, such as Mr. Murat—as well as Chinese Americans and Chinese Mexicans—have a long history on the border, one that goes back more than a hundred years. In the early years, migrants entered the U.S. through subterranean passages. Along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, clandestine tunnels have been a major conduit for contraband and human smuggling. Such is the case in the Mexican cities of Tijuana, Mexicali (where Chinese immigrants dug a mazelike network of tunnels that persists to the present day), Nogales, and Agua Prieta. In these cities, narco-trafficking groups, such as the Arellano Félix cartel and the Cártel de Sinaloa, have taken advantage of

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