The Pot Pipelines

Jason Kersten explains the economics of trafficking marijuana through tunnels beneath the US-Mexico border:

Of all the ways pot comes across the border—in hidden compartments of cars driving through legal ports of entry, on boats and airplanes, or lugged in burlap sacks by human mules—none are as efficient and profitable as a drug tunnel. Ever since the first one was discovered, in 1990, most have been linked to a single organization, the Sinaloa cartel, now one of the largest drug-trafficking organizations in the world. They are an innovation, in fact, that is inextricably tied to the rise of both the cartel itself and its leader, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, currently the most wanted man in Mexico. …

A large part of the Sinaloa cartel’s estimated $3 billion profits comes from marijuana, but weed is bulky. Huge piles of it back up in Tijuana warehouses after every harvest as brokers and the cartel scramble to find ways to get it into the United States. Building a tunnel is time-consuming and expensive, but it can pay for itself many times over in a single day. No sniffing dogs, no checkpoints, just a straight shot into the world’s largest drug market.

Previous Dish on US-Mexico drug tunnels here.