North McAllen stash house with underground bunker 'not structurally sound' - The Monitor: News

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North McAllen stash house with underground bunker 'not structurally sound'

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 1:51 pm

McALLEN – A narcotics investigation led authorities to an unusual find Wednesday in North McAllen: an underground drug bunker built beneath the foundation of a home.

The find was made in the 5000 block of Malaga Lane — just south of 7 Mile Line and Taylor Road — where undercover McAllen police investigators found about 2,000 pounds of marijuana and detained two men.

When authorities moved in, a third man ran out the back of the single-story home and managed to flee, police Chief Victor Rodriguez said.

Inside the home, police found that the group had broken through the house’s foundation and dug underground rooms beneath, leaving nothing much to hold the foundation up, Rodriguez said.

“This house is not structurally sound,” the chief said as McAllen city crews went into the house and had it condemned. “That is the risk that a homeowner takes when he rents his house to just anyone, they can cause considerable damage to the property and the owner may end up having the home torn down.”

Rodriguez said that if investigators find stash houses that are structurally unsafe, they will work with the city to have them condemned and torn down.

The two men who were arrested inside the house were taken out in handcuffs and placed in separate, unmarked police cars. As they were taken away, the men turned their faces away to avoid having their faces photographed. According the Rodriguez, the men appeared to be in the country illegally, however the investigation remains ongoing since detectives continue to follow other leads connected to the smuggling group.

Stash houses are not only used for drug smuggling but for human smuggling, too. Rodriguez said it appeared that the group used the bunker to try to hide the smell of the drug and to have room in which to hold people, too.

After investigators removed dozens of marijuana bundles — each marked with a large “Z,” the mark of the Zetas drug gang — city crews placed red condemnation signs and crime scene investigators sealed the entrance with yellow police tape.

iortiz@themonitor.com

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