Fast food joints have long been establishments where those in-the-know can get more than just a burger—whether it's actual coke with your Happy Meal or a side of weed with an order of "extra crispy" fries. But now, in a move almost too close to a Breaking Bad season arc, it looks like an abandoned fried chicken spot was also in on the action, after feds uncovered a sprawling secret drug tunnel leading to Mexico from an Arizona KFC.
ICE agents stumbled across the elaborate, 590-foot underground tunnel after local traffic cops stopped Arizona resident Ivan Lopez with more than $1 million worth of coke, meth, heroin, and fentanyl last week, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. After looking into some properties he owned, ICE checked out the abandoned KFC restaurant he had recently purchased and found a tiny, eight-inch hole leading underground from the floor of the building's kitchen.
They drilled two stories down and found an elaborate, wood-lined passageway that spanned the length of almost two football fields and ended underneath a house across the border in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. Agents believe that smugglers accessed the tunnel through a hidden trap door underneath a bed in the home, walked drugs underground across the border, and hoisted the dope up through the floor of the restaurant in Arizona using rope. ICE released a video from inside the uncovered passage, showing how smugglers might have used it for drug runs:
“This tunnel would take this drug trafficking organization a long time to construct and would have been very expensive," the criminal complaint states. "Such an endeavor necessarily requires a combination of several individuals on both sides of the border, engaged in an intricate, risky transnational conspiracy to construct such a secretive structure.”
Lopez was reportedly busted with 261 pounds of meth, 14 pounds of coke, 30 pounds of heroin, and nearly 3 million doses of fentanyl after cops saw him "coming in and out" of the abandoned KFC, carrying "large containers" to his car just before he was pulled over. He's now facing a litany of drug-related charges, including conspiracy to construct a border tunnel—a super specific charge that, if he's convicted, could land him behind bars for ten years to life, according to the criminal complaint.
Lopez's alleged operation was pretty inconspicuous compared to the many, many, many creative ways drug smugglers have tried to get drugs into the country—from fake butts to giant medieval-style catapults. Who knows how many underground tunnels could be littered in the basements of America's abandoned road trip pitstops.
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