Tatiana Faramarzi and Elyssa Pachico
March 9, 2012
In response to the rising number of smugglers’ tunnels found along the US-Mexico border, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill on Tuesday that would authorize the use of wiretapping to investigate and prosecute those conspiring to build such passageways.
The current law criminalizes the outright funding or building of tunnels and prohibits landowners from “recklessly” permitting others to build or use an unauthorized tunnel on their property. The Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012, sponsored by US Representative Silvestre Reyes (D- El Paso), would expand the existing law by making it a crime to conspire to build, use, or finance a border tunnel.
The legislation would also authorize the interception of “wire, oral or electronic communications” during law enforcement investigations. Previously, wiretapping could only be authorized to monitor a drug tunnel if law enforcement could prove that drugs or other illegal contraband were involved.