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Power, air conditioning and railway service: such are the amenities of a sophisticated tunnel the length of five football fields, used to smuggle cocaine from Mexico into the United States, said officials who made the shock discovery.
Federal authorities in California discovered the underground passageway last Friday as part of an investigation that led to the arrest and charging of six people, according to a Department of Justice criminal complaint.
Stretching from Tijuana, Mexico to a warehouse in Otay Mesa, south of San Diego, it is thought to be 1,744 feet (530 meters) long, 61 feet deep and four feet in diameter, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California said in a statement Monday.
Underground, officials found "reinforced walls, a rail system, electricity and a ventilation system."
Six people were charged with conspiring to distribute 1,762 pounds (800 kilograms) of cocaine, and officials also seized 164 pounds of methamphetamine and 3.5 pounds of heroin.
US Department of Homeland Security agents conducting surveillance on a suburban San Diego home tracked suspects to a stash location some 300 feet from the border. While inspecting the building, the agents discovered the tunnel access point, dug right out of the cement floor.
"There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel," US Attorney Randy Grossman said in a the statement.
"We will take down every subterranean smuggling route we find to keep illicit drugs from reaching our streets and destroying our families and communities."
Cross-border tunnels are frequently used by traffickers who smuggle migrants lured by the "American dream," or drugs, into the United States, the world's largest consumer of South American cocaine.
According to US figures, more than 90 tunnels have been discovered in southern California alone since 1993, including another "sophisticated" underground passageway located in March 2020.
When Paul Krugman was on vacation in late April and the first half of May, he actually acted like he was on vacation; the liberal economist and New York Times columnist didn’t do much tweeting, and there was a two-week gap between columns. But Krugman had a lot to talk about after he returned from vacation, including the mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York supermarket on Saturday, May 14.
In his first post-vacation column, published on May 16, Krugman has two observations about the American right: (1) “voodoo economics” is still a failure, and (2) at least the Reagan Republicans who promoted “voodoo economics” during the 1980s didn’t encourage violence.
Back in the days when Madonna, Prince, Duran Duran and Run-D.M.C. reigned supreme, President Ronald Reagan’s economic policy was described as both “trickle-down economics” and “voodoo economics.” Reagan and his allies believed that when millionaires and billionaires are given major tax cuts and become even more prosperous, they inevitably share their economics gains with the middle class and the poor — a school of economic thought that Krugman rejected when he was younger and still rejects in 2022.
Krugman writes, “It was shocking, at the time, when a crank economic doctrine — the claim that tax cuts pay for themselves — became, in effect, the official Republican party line…. And voodoo economics continues to do real damage to this day. The Republicans who control Mississippi, a poor state with desperately underfunded educational programs that’s closing hospitals, recently moved to boost the state’s economy by cutting taxes. As far as I know, however, diatribes about the evils of high marginal tax rates haven’t inspired any acts of domestic terrorism.”
Law enforcement officials believe that the May 14 shooter in Buffalo was inspired by far-right white nationalist doctrine and the racist conspiracy theory known as the Great Replacement. The deadly attack was carried out in a heavily Black area of Buffalo, and most of the people shot were African-American.
“As has been widely reported, the suspect accused of fatally shooting 10 people in Buffalo is a devotee of ‘Replacement theory,’ which claims that sinister elites — especially Jews, of course — are deliberately bringing in immigrants to displace and disempower White Americans,” Krugman explains. “So were the men charged with massacres at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 and an El Paso Walmart in 2019.”
Krugman continues, “Replacement theory used to be a fringe doctrine, but these days, in at best thinly disguised form, it is attracting significant mainstream support within the GOP. And this mainstream acceptance helps it spread. As The Times has documented, Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show has amplified the doctrine more than 400 times.”
The Great Replacement theory, Krugman notes, has also been promoted by well-known Republicans ranging from Rep. Elise Stefanik to “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, the GOP nominee in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race.
The “paranoid style,” according to Krugman, has been “taking over the Republican Party,” including “Republican elites” — who “used to push back against conspiracy theories but now cheerfully embrace them whenever it seems politically expedient.”
Krugman explains, “The rise of supply-side economics coincided with the rise of movement conservatism — an interlocking network of elected officials, media organizations, think tanks and lobbying firms…. Who was attracted to this movement? Many were careerists: people happy to serve as apparatchiks, following whatever the party line happened to be at the moment. They may have signed up to promote low taxes and a weaker safety net, but most of the party immediately went MAGA when the winds shifted.”
The columnist cites Vance and one-time “Paul Ryan protégé” Stefanik as examples of former Trump critics in the GOP who flip flopped and “went MAGA” because it was expedient.
“What we now know is that the embrace of crank economics presaged the general moral collapse of the Republican establishment,” Krugman observes. “This collapse opened the door for paranoia and conspiracy theorists of all kinds — and the consequences have been deadly. There is, I would argue, a direct line from the Laffer curve, to January 6, (2021) to Buffalo.”
The white teen accused of murdering 10 Black people at a New York grocery store planned the shooting for months -- and scoped out the location ahead of time, social media posts attributed to the suspect show.
Payton Gendron, 18, visited the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo three times on March 8, and wrote afterwards of his intention to commit murder -- according to posts he is believed to have made on Discord and 4chan, both sites popular with radicals.
He wrote about how many Black and white shoppers were inside and mapped out the supermarket's aisles, CNN and The Washington Post reported.
Gendron posted that during his third trip he was approached by a "Black armed security guard" who asked him what he was doing going in and out the store.
The alleged shooter made up an excuse about collecting census data. "In hindsight that was a close call," Gendron wrote.
In a post on March 10, Gendron wrote, "I'm going to have to kill that security guard at Tops. I hope he doesn't kill me or even hurt me instantly," CNN reported.
Among the victims of Saturday's shooting was a retired police officer working as a security guard. He fired several shots at the assailant before being shot himself, police said.
Gendron first wrote about killing Black people in December and decided in February to target Tops based on its large surrounding African American population, according to the Post, which reviewed more than 600 pages of online messages.
Gendron said he had chosen Buffalo as the preferred site of his attack because its zip code had a higher Black population than other locations he was considering, CNN reported.
He allegedly wrote about how he planned to carry out his attack on March 15 but delayed several times.
Wearing heavy body armor and wielding an AR-15 assault rifle, the white supremacist is accused of livestreaming Saturday's racist rampage.
He has pleaded not guilty to a single count of first-degree murder.